Friday, December 24, 2010

Late Friday Night Ode To ... Holidays Spirits

Nothing to say except - I wish you all happy holidays, folks!

And for your enjoyment - here's Rush:

Keep on rockin' - and party responsibly, eh?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Canadian Branch Of The North American Security Surveillance State

Read it and weep, folks (emphasis added):

Canada’s little-known spy agency comes out into the open

At a time when most government agencies are cutting and slashing, a little-known spy agency led by a Rhodes Scholar is the envy of Ottawa for its planned billion-dollar headquarters.

A rising force in the national-security apparatus, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) is an electronic-eavesdropping agency that gathers intelligence from abroad. Led by 68-year-old military veteran John Adams, the agency keeps its operations quiet, reporting only to Canada’s military and civilian leadership.

For the first time since he took over the agency in 2005, Mr. Adams has discussed CSEC’s mission and future, which includes plans for an $880-million headquarters housing hundreds of mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists by 2015.

News of the planned 72,000 square-metre compound is raising eyebrows around the national capital, given few people outside of government know what CSEC is or what it does.

But “if you were to ask the Canadian Forces if there is anyone that has saved Canadian lives in Afghanistan, they would point to us,” Mr. Adams told The Globe and Mail. He said that well over half of the “actionable intelligence” that soldiers use in Afghanistan comes from his agency.

This work is distinct from that done by a far better known spy agency –the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The difference between the two boils down to tradecraft and jurisdiction.

CSIS – Canada’s human-intelligence, or “HumInt” agency – has its people and agents train their actual eyes and ears on security threats inside the country.

CSEC – the “signals-intelligence” or “SigInt” counterpart – relies almost wholly on technology to hear what people are saying abroad (spying on Canadians is illegal). Since being formed in the 1940s, this agency has rarely told anyone the fruits of its findings, save for its two masters – the Department of National Defence and the Privy Council Office.

On paper, the two agencies’ mandates don’t overlap, but in practise their operations are running together more than ever. That’s why the new CSEC complex is being built next to CSIS’ current headquarters – and why architects are planning to install a glass bridge connecting the two.

As envisioned, the seven-building CSEC complex will be the equivalent of a 90-storey skyscraper turned on its side – a highly secure compound outfitted with the latest high-tech gear. Two nearby electrical generating stations will power the agency’s computers, which suck in millions of conversations from around the world each day and scour them for intelligence information.

CSEC’s 1,700 staff and $300-million budget are double what they were a decade ago. Yet the agency’s bricks-and-mortar surroundings have been neglected. Some staff complain that a wall-sized mainframe computer has even fallen through an old floor. The current complex, a scattering of Cold War-era buildings near Carleton University, can no longer suck enough energy off the grid to sustain operations.

“We’ve run out of power,” said Mr. Adams, whose facilities use about as much energy as a small town. “We’ve got 700 people buried in a basement.”

Now the plan is to bring staff out of their subterranean cloisters and into collaborative work spaces, ones where cryptologists and engineers work together in bright rooms surrounded by daylight and foliage.

The plan doesn’t just envision $880-million in construction costs. According to a union representing CSEC employees, there is also a somewhat unique arrangement that will commit Ottawa to spend up to $5-billion more over the next 34 years. These costs are part of a “public-private partnership” – incorporating a complex mix of debt-servicing costs, standard-operating payments and an unusual facilities-management deal with a private consortium.

Still in the final stages of negotiation, the project will demand significant resources at a time when CSEC’s parent organization – the Defence Department – hopes to slash thousands of jobs and a billion dollars from its budget. As a result, the secretive SigInt agency is finding itself under the unfamiliar glare of public scrutiny. “They put themselves in a goldfish bowl, building a building with that much, in these times,” said John MacLennan, who heads the Union of National Defence Employees.

But Canadians need to understand how much raw data the spy agency handles – and how much more it’s going to have to handle in the future, Mr. Adams argues. He makes a case that the new complex in Ottawa’s East End is vital for national security.

Already, he said his staff process the informational equivalent of a WikiLeaks-sized data dump of State Department cables every day – or more transactions than all of Canada’s big banks combined. His staff burn through megawatts of brainpower and electrical energy as their computers crunch unfathomable amounts of information.

Nothing is final, but the new headquarters is envisioned as a veritable puzzle palace for Canadian cryptographers. Part of the inspiration comes from high-tech companies, who have found that good things happen when staff are forced to work together – and when they play as hard as they work.

A technocrat who has battled public-sector unions in the past, Mr. Adams has swayed Defence Minister Peter MacKay to sign off on allowing a consortium of companies to build and manage the new headquarters. The Australian-based Plenary Group won a competitive bidding process and is to absorb the cost of construction, upkeep and basic facilities management while the federal government “buys” the property over 34 years – much like the way a condominium owner pays off a long-term mortgage and monthly maintenance fees.

A political operator who can make his points with a wink, Mr. Adams travelled an interesting road to get to the spy world. In the 1960s, he graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada before studying arts at Oxford. He joined the military and rose to the rank of major-general before heading to Ottawa. The federal government has trusted him with running army bases, military procurement and the Coast Guard before handing him the reins of CSEC.

Canada has never tried the particular type of public-private building arrangement slated for CSEC’s headquarters. “This is fairly new, but GCHQ has done it,” Mr. Adams said, referencing the British counterpart agency, Government Communications Headquarters. There were complaints about cost overruns at that facility, but the CSEC chief said his headquarters should save Canadian taxpayers almost $180-million over the coming decades if everything goes to plan.

Much of the cost is being driven by mechanical engineering – secure closed networks have to be built; rows upon rows of computers and servers and cooling systems have to be installed; and the backup electrical generators need to be in place in case the public grid goes down. Conceptions of the building also call for a “rapid response” meeting room, in the event that terrorists strike.

Yet critics are seizing on seemingly superfluous trims. There are plans for a sprawling “glass curtain” wall incorporating an artist’s concept for an “encryption code pattern.” Many sports and leisure facilities are planned.

Officials at CSEC say nothing is final and are already dialling down some of the more lavish touches contemplated in the mockups. “There will be no [hockey] rink and there will be no hobby garden,” says Mr. Adams, who admits he’s a fitness nut.

Keeping Canada in the loop

Officials say Canada's signals-intelligence capability gives us extra sets of ears abroad, since the very existence of CSEC gives Ottawa access to the tens of billions of secrets dredged up by larger partner agencies, including the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters and the U.S. National Security Agency.

Since the end of the Second World War, Canada has been part of an intelligence arrangement where a loose consortium of spy agencies from English-speaking countries freely trade their state secrets.

Spymasters argue that Canadian taxpayers' $300-million-a-year commitment to CSEC is a bargain.

And Canadian prime ministers can get jittery if someone threatens to turn off the intelligence tap, as shown in correspondence that surfaced in the recent WikiLeaks data dump. Paul Martin is said to have lobbied U.S. president George W. Bush to keep Ottawa in the intelligence loop, amid fears Canada would be cut off for refusing to send soldiers to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Ottawa “is aware that we are creating a separate U.S.-U.K.-Australia channel for sharing sensitive intelligence, including information that traditionally has been U.S. eyes only,” reads a 2004 U.S. State Department briefing to Mr. Bush.

Canada “has expressed concern at multiple levels that their exclusion from a traditional ‘four-eyes' construct is ‘punishment' for Canada's non-participation in Iraq and they fear that the Iraq-related channel may evolve into a more permanent ‘three-eyes' only structure.”

A threat to national security? Some CSEC staff argue contracting out jobs leaves Canada at risk

One of the more alarming criticisms about the new signals-intelligence complex is that it's a threat to our national security.

Part of the plan involves contracting out about 90 government jobs to the private-sector consortium that will manage the new buildings over the next 34 years. These contractors will do the less sensitive work – such as laying cables around the building, running an information-technology help desk or working as security guards. They will not be cryptographers or signals spies.

Even so, the plan has incensed some CSEC staff who argue that top secrets are at risk, given that a rotating cast of contractors will be less loyal than sworn-to-secrecy federal employees.

“I have to go to my grave with my secrets, but there's a real possibility these people will WikiLeak real secrets,” said one retired CSEC employee, who asked not to be named because he said he feared “retribution.”

“Public sector employees are under a lot more disciplined scrutiny,” said John MacLennan, head of the Union of National Defence Employees.

In an interview, CSEC chief John Adams dismissed the concern about privatization, saying any outside contractors would be vetted for appropriate security clearances. Signals-intelligence agencies in Britain and the United States have used large numbers of private-sector contractors without problems, he said, adding that CSEC already contracts out some jobs.
There you have it. Now simply re-read these two recent posts of mine: "Monitoring North America" and "Welcome To Your Authoritarian Corporatocratic Security Surveillance State Of North America".

Q.E.D. - yet again.

I had to laugh, however, when I read the sentence "spying on Canadians is illegal".

Tell it loud and clear to CSIS, the RCMP, our Armed Forces intelligence and law enforcement agencies, will you?

And tell it loud and clear to the Harper government, as well.

Have a happy holidays anyways, fucking mouthpieces.

And so it goes ...

Happy Holidays ...

... and all that jazz.

Enjoy yourselves with family and friends. Party hard, but responsibly, eh?

In the meantime, a little food for thought, to which I say "hear, hear!":

The happy heathens
By Chris Selley

When the 2001 census-takers descended upon London, Ont., they found 83,680 people who described their religious beliefs as agnostic, atheist, humanist, non-existent or some “other response” such as “Darwinism.” (The census didn’t specify the number of smart-asses.) Assuming the numbers hold nearly a decade later, that makes roughly one in five Londoners pretty much godless. They outnumber Muslims by a factor of seven, Jews by a factor of 45. They’re everywhere, these people.

And they’re miserable. Or so Ian Hunter, professor emeritus at London’s University of Western Ontario, seems to think. “By and large,” he wrote in Tuesday’s National Post, “the appeal of agnosticism … is that it gives the illusion of a safe harbour in a roiling sea when, in fact, it … leaves the voyager without a compass (for Christians, the Bible); without a guide (for Christians, Jesus Christ); without a destination (for Christians, heaven); and without a hope (for Christians, resurrection).”

Blimey. If that’s the agnostics, imagine the despair of the atheists!

Mr. Hunter is hardly the first to propose that non-believers are aimless, woebegone wretches — to argue, implicitly at least, that because nominal belief in God, heaven and resurrection were very highly correlated with happiness among Western people for centuries, therefore belief in God, heaven and resurrection must be preconditions for happiness. Replace the word “happiness” with “misery” and note that the argument is equally valid; and hopefully you’ll see the problem.

Normally, these columns don’t rile me up. I don’t believe in God, but that’s neither a source of pride nor an essential component of my world view. I never believed in God, nor was I ever asked to, so I never rejected religion — which, from my observation, seems to be key to how one approaches this discussion. There will be more and more shrugging people like me in future, and presumably fewer and fewer purple-faced people like the Christian apostate Christopher Hitchens, whom I admire tremendously but whose war against religion is tiresome beyond belief.

My idea of hell is being forced to watch Mr. Hitchens square off against a religious opponent — perhaps his brother Peter — in an attempt to decide once and for all which side killed more people. The Third Reich! The Thirty Years’ War! The Khmer Rouge! The Crusades! Stalin! The Taiping Rebellion! My conception of a merciful God would briefly show himself and throw a coconut cream pie in each of their faces.

What bothered me about Mr. Hunter’s column, I think, was the lumping together of militant atheists, agnostics and people like me to whom it’s simply never occurred to believe in God. “Caught between the believer and the militant atheist are the people who, not quite sure what to believe, take comfort in a kind of sentimental agnosticism,” he writes. “The journey, they will say, is more important than the destination.”

Frankly the idea that the journey is less important than the destination — whether it be heaven or rapid cremation of one’s entire being — strikes me as fundamentalist and creepy. But I’m sure that’s just the godlessness talking. More importantly, does he really believe that everyone between these binary extremes — happy believers and evangelical atheists — is really “caught”? Are Mr. Hitchens and Richard Dawkins perched on one shoulder preaching licentiousness and rape, à la Animal House, and the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury on the other, preaching sweetness and light?

Mr. Hunter, a former professor at the University of Western Ontario, has spent infinitely more time on the streets of London, Ont., than I have. I wonder: Does he really believe 20% of the people he encounters there are forlorn, bereft of hope, spiritually adrift? Surely that’s what he’s implying. How could one have no compass, no guide, no destination and no hope and be anything other than borderline suicidal? Isn’t it possible that a good portion of them are genuinely happy in their modern, squishy “spirituality,” or their militant atheism, or whatever it is I ascribe to? (I hesitate to call myself an atheist these days because people like Mr. Hunter and Mr. Hitchens have conspired to turn it into a de facto religion.)

I have no problem acknowledging religion’s civilizing tendencies, inconsistent as they are. When I enter a church for a wedding or a baptism, I feel no angst but rather joy at sharing in the freely chosen rituals of good friends (though I do reserve the right to needle them about their hypocrisies at the after-parties). Perhaps people such as Mr. Hunter might be happier if they adopted the same frame of mind when they venture hesitantly out into the godless world. Clearly everyone out there isn’t miserable. Having acknowledged that, they might find it easier to reclaim religion from the forces of political correctness, which they believe have puréed it into an unpalatable mush.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Witnessing The Nearing End Of The Modern Experiment In Democracy

As I wrote previously, a democratic society - whether breathing through a parliamentary system or a republic one - can only bring about and sustain the commonwealth of its citizens so long as said citizens remain knowledgeable, respectful and protective of their civil rights as entrenched in the constitution of their democratic society.

To this effect, history shows us what happens to such societies when citizens abandon their responsibilities and roles as guardians of their own democracies and civil rights because they have fallen in the grip of complacency, search for quick/instantaneous self-gratification, acceptance of greed/war-driven imperialism, fear and the need to feel "safe" - all to the advantage of the wealthy and power-hungry.

The first known democracy, at least as recorded by history, developed around 500 BCE in Athens, Greece. Known as the "Athenian democracy", it constituted a type of direct democracy where the people did not elect representatives to vote on their behalf, but rather voted on legislation and executive bills in their own right - that is, regardless of economic class, although only adult males that had completed military training were recognized as citizens and thus allowed to participate/vote in Assemblies, as well as electing a leader. However, usually low participation rates (less than a sixth of the recognized citizens) plagued the Athenian-style democracy, because of inherent problems that ring all-too-familiar to us nowadays (emphasis added):
Athens was an intellectual center, but only a few there were interested in advancing their worldly knowledge, and these were mostly young men of leisure from wealthy families. Self-interest remained stronger than community interest, and in the city's market place one could see poverty, slave drivers, loud peddlers and those who cheated their customers.

Not every Athenian believed that democracy was best. Some wealthy Athenians grumbled about the vulgarity of democratic politics. Among them was the playwright Aristophanes, who disliked seeing men attempt to create a following by promising rewards and playing on superstitions. Some men of wealth felt exploited for the sake of what they saw as the ignorant, disorderly mob. And some found democratic government too slow in making judgments and getting things done.

At any rate, despite democracy having added to the military power of Athens, democracy was destined not to last. It was still an age of war and conquest, and these would eventually destroy it.
Indeed (emphasis added):
During their war against Persia, a spirit of unity and brotherhood had arisen among those Greek cities opposed to the Persians, a unity served by their common language, common customs and common religious beliefs. But their spirit of unity proved superficial, and the Greek city-states drifted back to seeing themselves as different from each other.

(...) Problem was, as the leader of Delian League the Athenians were arrogant. Athens arrogated to itself the role of policeman within its alliance. According to the Athenian journalist Thucydides, the Athenians were heavy handed in pressuring allies who were "neither accustomed nor willing to undertake protracted toil." Athens forced back into its alliance a city that had broken its oath to remain in the league. It suppressed petty wars within the league and intervened in disputes within member cities, favoring those who supported democracy.

The Athenians were creating an empire. Seeing themselves as superior to other Greeks, some Athenians argued that empire was the natural order of things, that if they did not have the strength to dominate others they would soon be dominated. Some saw empire as a remedy to over-population. Some landless Athenians favored the confiscation of lands abroad as an opportunity to become landowners. Some wealthy Athenians saw in imperialism an opportunity to gain more land. Those Athenians making money from trade supported empire believing that it would benefit them commercially. Some believed that imperialism would provide them jobs, such as jobs on ships that policed the seas, and jobs on the docks that serviced those ships. Some supported empire also because it appeared to guarantee supplies of grain. Many Athenians saw benefit in their city receiving tribute from those city-states that Athens dominated, taxes they would otherwise have to pay.
This of course lead to the Great Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE). And the inevitable ensued (emphasis added):
The following year, 430, plague made an appearance in Athens, made worse by the overcrowding that had come with people entering the city from the countryside. The plague killed Pericles (then elected leader of the city), and Athenian passions influenced their choice of a new leader, a man named Cleon, a merchant tanner by trade who was more excitable than had been Pericles. Cleon's desire for vengeance and punishing the enemy matched theirs.

There was always someone who did not go along with public passions, and among the Athenians one of them was the playwright Aristophanes. Befitting a playwright's responsibility to be above common opinion, he depicted Cleon as a demagogue and a rogue. And, in his dislike for democracy, he expressed his wish that leaders of Athens be chosen by less excitable, more moderate-minded men rather than the public.
Numerous acts of repression were consequently committed by Cleon the Hard-Liner, with Athenian citizens cheering him on, against those cities that rebelled against Athens' supremacy (forget about winning heats and minds, right?). These campaigns, along with the rest of the war, left Athens financially exhausted. Yet, after a brief calm in the war, Athens returned to its aggressive and repressive imperialistic ways - and ended up being roundly defeated. From there, what followed was again predictable (emphasis added):
For Athens, defeat abroad led to turmoil at home. In 411, while the Athenian navy was in the eastern Aegean, a group in Athens opposed to democracy launched a coup and set up an oligarchy called the Four Hundred. They created a constitution based on nostalgia for ancestral custom, and they began a rule of terror and totalitarianism. The Athenian fleet would have liked to return to Athens to drive the Four Hundred from power, but they believed they were needed where they were to defend the empire. The Four Hundred sought help from those with whom they shared a disdain for democracy: the Spartans. But before help could arrive from Sparta, the Four Hundred were driven from power by those who called themselves the Five Thousand, and the following year democracy returned to Athens.

With Persian financial resources behind them and a new fleet, Sparta and its allies won a series of military successes, including a great victory over the Athenian main fleet. This left Athens surrounded by enemy forces on land and sea and cut off from sources of food. Through the winter of 405-04 Athens starved. In the spring season -- twenty-seven years after the glorious cause had first begun -- Athens surrendered. The Great Peloponnesian War had finally ended.
Thereafter came the rise of Macedonia and the eager acceptance by the citizens of democratic Athens to ally themselves with the rising power - for the sake of security and greed. Yet, ironically, Athens would suffer what the city-state itself perpetrated during the Peloponnesian War, but with this time the price being the end of Athenian democracy (emphasis added):
(...) after the death of Alexander the Great, the Athenians joined other Greek states in an unsuccessful revolt against Macedonian rule. The Macedonians retaliated in 322 by placing a garrison in Attica. An oligarchy was imposed, with the franchise restricted to the rich.
The lesson here is quite simple:
Athens would have fared better had it been less imperial. It would have fared better had it pursued trade by mutual agreement and maintained membership in alliances based on equality (...). With all of the heroism, sacrifice, speech about glory and communications with the gods, the Greeks had failed to elevate themselves in their well-being.
Let us now look at another civilization of note in ancient history with at least some democratic underpinnings, the Roman Republic (emphasis added):
In 509 BCE, a group of Roman nobles drove the Etruscan king, Tarquin, from power. Without a king, Rome had become a republic. Power passed to Rome's aristocratic council of elders, the Senate.
From there, some democracy was achieved gradually (emphasis added):
In various societies, during the long gap between Athenian and modern democracy, the people acquire some elements of democratic power without achieving the ultimate control implicit in the ballot box.

The Roman republic is a good example. Early in the 5th century the (male) citizens of Rome, by a programme of passive disobedience, win the right to elect their own officials - the tribunes. Two centuries later, in 287 BCE, the decisions of the people's assembly are technically given the status of law. But in this oligarchic society, the votes of the people are mainly important as an expression of the power of their elected tribunes - who themselves become key figures within the oligarchy.

The votes of the Roman people (males only), or plebs, are registered not individually but as the decision of a tribe. Every Roman (male) citizen is a member of a tribe (he is allotted to one, if not a citizen by birth). By the 3rd century BCE the number of tribes grows to thirty-five, as more are added to enrol an urban population of new citizens.

When an assembly is called, any (male) citizen may attend. The area of the assembly is divided by ropes into a section for each tribe, and a walkway leads from each section to the presiding magistrate's platform. The tribes have their own officials to count the votes.

Until 139 BCE (male) citizens vote orally, giving their answer to a teller. Thereafter they mark a tablet and place it in an urn, constituting a secret ballot. When each tribe's returns have been counted, the result is taken to the magistrate as a single vote.

It is the beginning of the kind of voting system needed in any democracy larger than an ancient Greek city (similar methods are now used for elections in many representative democracies).
However, the same old problems occurred as in Athens - including the obvious denial of the right to vote for women and the already pervasive use of slaves (emphasis added):
A problem for Rome was the conflict between its aristocrat rulers and commoners. Rome's aristocrats liked warring. They were horsemen, and cavalry was their basic fighting unit. Wars gave them prestige and helped them to maintain their claim of leadership over the other Romans (...) The increased importance of the common man in combat had encouraged democracy in Athens, and now it was increasing the self-confidence of Rome's commoner-soldiers, who were also small farmers.

Economic distress exacerbated conflict between aristocrats (patricians) and commoners (plebeians). Involved in this conflict was the rise of debt slavery. When a small farmer was seized for non-payment of his debts, other commoners, mainly farmer-soldiers, might attempt to rescue him by force.

(...) The farmer-soldiers were encouraged by the increase in their participation in government. It gave them more of a sense that in war they were fighting for their own interests, and this enhanced their morale and strengthened Rome as a military power.

(...) Rome used its power and prestige to regulate relations among various Italian cities. It made alliances. It created colonies, giving land in these colonies to common Romans and other Latins. The grant of land was accepted with the obligation of military service, the colony serving as Rome's keeper of peace in its area.

(...) While Rome had been expanding on the Italian mainland, it had made an agreement with Carthage, acknowledging that Carthage was the dominant power in Sicily. Carthage, in turn, promised Rome that it would stay off the Italian mainland. Rome abided by its treaty during its wars for the domination of Italy (...) Respecting its treaty with Carthage, Rome's Senate chose not to send help to (the city of) Messana. But one of Rome's two consuls was eager for action that would give him distinction. He spoke of reluctance to send help to Messana as weakness. He aroused the people of Rome, who had been filled with pride over Rome's success in dominating Italy. The Senate gave in to the aroused emotions of the public, and it sent a force to Messana. The world was turning -- as it would in the twentieth century -- on demagoguery and the passions and vanity of common people (...) Carthage asked that Rome withdraw its troops. But proud Romans called on their city to stand up to Carthage. Some claimed that Carthage's control over the strait between Italy and Sicily was a danger to Rome's security. And, as with the Athenians at the outbreak of the Great Peloponnesian war, there was little reluctance and caution about going to war, including among the civilian farmer-soldiers who would fight the war. With this swagger and willingness to war, a new era was beginning. Rome chose war, and it brought a number of Italian allies into the war on its side. And shortly into the war, Rome extended its war goals beyond securing the strait between Italy and Sicily -- the "mission creep" that would be common through history. The contest against Carthage became a war for plunder. Then it became a war for driving Carthage out of Sicily, and then a war for all of Sicily. And Rome's enlarged goals would create a war that was to last twenty-three years, to 241 BCE (...) Despite the heavy losses in treasure and life that they had suffered, Romans fantasized that they had won a great victory against Carthage. Many were pleased by the additional prestige their city had gained. And for many Romans victory confirmed that their city had been called on by the gods for a special destiny (...) Romans emerged from this first Punic War with an enhanced concern for national security and Roman strategists saw added security in winning control over Corsica and Sardinia. It was another step in creating empire.
And we all know what happened next: Rome "secured" its northern border, then expanded its "security zone" eastward, then westard, and then warred against Carthage again (although not as aggressor). Hence, the die was cast (emphasis added):
The war against Carthage changed Rome. The Senate had gained more power and prestige during the wars, and people's assemblies, the Comitias Plebus, had declined in influence. The Romans had emerged from the Punic wars with the widespread understanding that ultimate authority over the military lay with the Senate, that it was the Senate's job to know, advise and guide, and the Senate's job to decide the question of war or peace and other foreign policy matters.

Rome's second war against Carthage reduced the number of people in the Italian countryside. Men had gone off to war. People had died and people had moved to the cities to escape war. Some people had left the countryside to work in the arms industry, and some went to Rome looking for subsistence (...) Newcomers developed a preference for the city over the life of drudgery they had known working on farms. And after the war ended, many veterans from farming families preferred settling in cities, especially Rome, rather than return to the countryside. Cities in Italy became overcrowded (...) As a result of the war, much farmland in Italy could be bought cheaply. Those with wealth began buying this farmland, some landowners expanding their holdings and some businessmen from the cities looking for a secure investment and a source of social respectability. With the accelerated trend toward larger farms came a greater use of slaves (...) Many small farmers found themselves unable to compete with the larger farms and their more numerous slaves (...) Many of Rome's small farmers, who had been the backbone of the Roman Republic, had become city-dwellers living off welfare -- free bread and circuses.

(...) Men of wealth in Greece sent representatives to Rome's Senate where they appealed for help. Some Romans wanted their city to avoid entanglements in Greece in order to avoid contacts with philosophies they believed would corrupt their fellow Romans. Some believed that rather than go to Greece it would be better to focus on recovery from the war against Hannibal and other problems in Italy and at home. Some others wanted their city to use its power to serve what they described as its interests abroad. A few sought to advance or acquire military reputations. And some believed that Roman military strength backed by their virtues and the power of their gods could improve the world beyond Italy. They saw Romans as the most blessed, capable, wise and honorable of people. They argued for selective intervention beyond Italy as a duty and as a service to humankind and spoke of Rome's destiny and triumphs yet to come.
Thus came the era of Roman interventionism and forced alliances with repression - at any price at that (emphasis added):
Roman diplomacy had been growing devious and self-serving. Rome favored oligarchies against democrats, its Senate never having approved of the authority of the masses. And Rome had begun to create borders abroad that served its interests by being ill-defined -- borders that kept various powers at odds with each other and wanting to maintain Rome's favor.

When the people of Sardinia and Corsica rose against Rome in an attempt to re-establish their independence, Rome sent armies against them. Rome did not wish to tolerate any example of defiance.

(...) With cooperation from wealthy Greeks, Rome moved to extend its authority over Greece. Roman sympathizers among the Greeks gave the Romans reports as to who was anti-Roman, and the Romans deported the denounced people in great number. In helping conservative politicians in one city, Roman soldiers invaded an assembly and murdered five hundred office holders who had been reported to be anti-Roman.

(...) In 157, a Roman senator, Cato, visited North Africa and became aware that prosperity had returned to Carthage. This led him to complain that Carthage continued to be a menace to Rome. He began ending his speeches in the Senate with the words "Carthago delenda est" - "Carthage must be destroyed" (...) Believing that war against Rome was hopeless, a delegation that Carthage sent to Rome offered surrender in the form of a commitment to "the faith of Rome" -- understood to mean that Rome could take possession of Carthage but that the lives of the people of Carthage would be spared and that they would not be taken as slaves. Rome's Senate responded by granting Carthage self-rule and the right of the city and its people to keep all their possessions on condition that Carthage send to Rome three hundred of its leading citizens as hostages. Hoping to save their city from destruction, amid much grieving, the Carthaginians sent their leading citizens to Rome as hostages. Rome had already decided to wipe Carthage from the map. Rome demanded that Carthage surrender all its weapons, and Carthage did so, including two hundred thousands suits of mail and two thousand catapults. Then Rome demanded that the people of Carthage surrender their city and move ten miles inland. For the Carthaginians this means leaving behind their homes, their docks and quays and their ability to carry on their sea-going trade. The people of Carthage preferred war and refused. Rome responded as it had planned, with military operations, which began in the year 149 (...) In the spring of 146, Roman soldiers were finally able to penetrate Carthage's walls. They swarmed into the city and began fighting street by street. First Carthage's harbor area fell to the Romans, then the market area, and finally the citadel in the city-center. Amid suicides and carnage, the Romans demolished and burned the city. They carried off survivors, selling the women and children into slavery and throwing the men into prison, where they were to perish. Then the Romans spread salt across what had been Carthage's farmlands, and Carthage was no more.

(...) In Greece, Rome dissolved the Achaean league and had its leaders put to death. Rome's governor to Macedonia became governor also of the entire Greek peninsula. Rome would now allow only internal rule of Greek cities -- by wealthy elites.
In short: the making of Empire was underway, with the population revelling in their own self-perceived glory while abandoning their responsibilities in keeping their Senate in check.

The rest, of course, is history (emphasis added):
How did the Republic of Rome fall?

It can be argued that what truly heralded the coming, final end of the Roman republic, and the subsequent birth of the Roman empire, was when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon to enter Rome, in utter defiance of the prevailing laws and customs of the time - and from that moment on, because of this action, everything would go downhill with regards to the old Roman republic, including civil wars which would culminate with the corronation of Octavian (Caesar's nephew and adopted son) as Augustus, first Roman emperor.

Of course, there had been already an ongoing gradual series of changes in Roman laws prior to Caesar, each internal crisis or external threat (real or perceived) validating arguments within the republic for the necessity of strong and powerful leaders being vested with vast powers, in order to ensure the safety and security of Rome. Thus the slow but ever-forward erosion of the laws and principles of representative republicanism in favor of a king-like one-man rule - the title and office of "Commander Imperitor" (from which the English word emperor is derived).
With the obvious consequence being this, as exemplified by the Romans of old (emphasis added):
But the change from republic to empire, in the 1st century BC, brings an end to any further democratic developments. Roman citizens are subsequently appeased with bread and circuses rather than votes.
Of course, there are other examples of democracies and/or republics failing for the exact same reasons the Athenian and Roman ones did. Just consider the French republic: cries for the need of a strong and powerful leader in times of crisis lead to the corronation of Napoléon the First as Emperor of the French. The price for having embraced such dreams of Empire, the typical folly, tallied too many human lives that were destroyed or lost. That the French republic eventually recovered should in no way blind us to the obvious lessons of history - including the truism that every empire, ancient or modern, regardless of size, scope and longevity, has inevitably fallen.

Why? Because the dynamic is the same:
1) Citizens in a democratic-based society do not care to inform themselves, to learn new knowledge, but would rather seek instant gratification, cling to their superstitious beliefs and be serviced an opinion;

2) Citizens therefore leave themselves quite susceptible to propaganda meant to stroke their ego, such as how they belong to a glorious people with a (God/Heaven-approved) destiny, how they are superior and better than all other peoples, how they are exceptional;

3) In the meantime, the wealthy always seek to secure legislative, judiciary, policy-making and executive power by any and all means underhanded or overt - right under the collective noses of uncaring, and/or complacent, and/or self-absorbed, and/or self-serving subservient, and/or willingly uninformed, and/or willingly under-educated citizens;

4) With the lack of a 4th estate, or worse with the proddings from a subservient media, citizens eagerly embrace dreams of Empire, all the while continually falling prey to demagogues and fearmongers;

5) Power- and greed-hungry elected representatives and juges openly get in bed with the wealthy in order to rule for the wealthy, caring less and less for their own citizens which are becoming poorer and poorer;

6) With the wealthy always wanting more, they indirectly or directly spur governments, and the citizenry, into interventionism - if not outright imperialism;

7) Militarism increases, along with the reverence for all things military;

8) Seemingly faced with "enemies without" and/or "enemies within", thanks to unrelenting propaganda, fear-driven citizens eagerly accept any and all erosions of their rights in order to feel secure, as well as the insane economic costs required to support successive/undending military campaigns and ever-growing security agencies - even actually yearning for a strong Emperor-like Leader;

9) Democracy ends, to be replaced by some form of Authoritarian (Corporate, Military, Surveillance Security) Empire;

10) The incredible economic strains of expanding/maintaining Empire (usually via military campaigns of repression and/or conquest) inevitably leads to collapse and chaos.
Think about it: everything outlined herein with regards to Athens and Rome - could there still be someone who fails to see the obvious parallels with what has occurred over the last 60 years? With what has occurred in the last 10 years?

With what is still occurring before our very eyes?

Allow me to give you but a small sample:
US-led troops abduct Afghan journalist;

Rendition, and the CIA's Italian Job;

CIA gave waterboarders $5M legal shield;

The Emperor Wears No Clothes;

Slouching Off Towards Tyranny - Indeed;

White House drafts executive order for indefinite detention;

Death Squad Eyed in Terror Strategy;

"These Are Not The Criminals You Are Looking For";

DC Metro Bag Searches: Random Inspections To Begin;

Supreme Court becoming a tool for corporate interests;

This Is How The End Of Democracy Is Hastened;

Reloaded: This Is How The End Of Democracy Is Hastened;

CNN Asks “Do we need a free press”?

The End of Democracy? Ask Joe Lieberman And The US State Department;

G20 protesters ran into secret law;

Harper government constructs a national security state;

Welcome To Your Authoritarian Corporatocratic Security Surveillance State Of North America;

US government ‘creating vast domestic snooping machine’;

Monitoring North America;

The Cost Of Fear: Losing Ourselves Beyond Redemption;

A trillion-dollar catastrophe. Yes, Iraq was a headline war;

Afghanistan Now Officially a Forever War;

Corporate Media Ignores US Hypocrisy on War Crimes;

Here Is Your Authoritarian Corporatocracy At Work;

Constitution, Rights, Rule Of Law: Who Gives A F*ck?

Is Harper systematically ‘snuffing’ out democracy in Senate?

Reloaded: The Holy United States Of America;

US Bases Around The World: How Long Can The Empire last?
We must not forget the following equation:
Fear + need for security + erosion of the rule of Law + religious fundamentalism + militarism + intolerance for opposing/dissenting opinions and beliefs + calls for a strong and powerful leader = a democracy facing possible overthrow in favor of despotism.
Or, to put it another way:
1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy;
2. Create a gulag;
3. Develop a thug caste;
4. Set up an internal surveillance system;
5. Harass citizens' groups;
6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release;
7. Target key individuals;
8. Control the press;
9. Dissent equals treason;
and 10. Suspend the rule of law.
Hence - more than ever as this first decade of the 21st achieves its course, what we are witnessing right now is the nearing of the end of our modern experiment in democracy.

I wonder what historians will think of us in centuries hence?

Probably something like this:
Western-style parliamentary and republican democracies would have fared better had they been less arrogant, less interventionist, less imperial. They would have likewise fared better had they relentlessly driven for a high education of their populations, to ensure a continual renewal of innovation and maintenance of critical thinking and reasoning. They would also have endured by pursuing trade through mutual agreements meant for the common good of their citizens, not wealthy individuals. Furthermore, they would have achieved global stability peacefully by pursuing memberships in alliances based on equality and commonwealth, all the while guarding vigilantly against the encroachement of self-serving corporate influences into their governing bodies. However, with their glorification of military heroism and sacrifice, as well as speeches about glory and communications with God, the Western-style democracies simply failed to elevate themselves in their well-being, in the end.
What's that old saying, again?

Ah, yes:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
This is where we are, now.

Hence why my previous question "everything outlined herein with regards to Athens and Rome - could there still be someone who fails to see the obvious parallels with what has occurred over the last 60 years? With what has occurred in the last 10 years? With what is still occurring before our very eyes?" constitutes nothing more than a naïve, hope-filled and empty rhetorical one.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pollution/Environment: Harper & Co. Talking The Talk ...

... but still not walking the walk. Nothing new here, eh?

Well folks - here's one more note added in proof (emphasis added):

Canada oil sands: Pollution monitoring is censured

A scientific panel has found Canada has "no system" for monitoring how Alberta's oil sands projects may be polluting local waterways.

Academic reports found that extraction plants were sending toxins such as mercury and lead into the water.

The western Canada oil sands are the largest source of crude outside Saudi Arabia.

The region is the largest single source of US oil imports, and produces over 1 million barrels a day.

Opponents say the process of extracting oil from the sands produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases and chemical waste.

The Oil Sands Advisory Panel was commissioned by former environment minister Jim Prentice in response to critisicm about water monitoring.

"Until this situation is fixed there will continue to be uncertainty and public distrust in the environmental performace of the oilsands industry and government oversight," the report concluded.

At a recent news conference, current environment minister John Baird promised to act on the panel's recommendations.

"For far too long we have heard concerns about the quality of water downstream from the oil sands," he said.

"We have hear the panel loud and clear and are ready to act."
And I say to (re)current Environment Minister John Baird: bullocks!

I'll believe it only when I'll be seeing it, bucko.

After all, remember this from your bullshitting Prime Douchebag of some three years ago?
"Canada won't meet its Kyoto targets to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but can be a world leader in battling climate change."
And what magnificent leadership we have provided so far (and even recently), eh

Hence, I proclaim that "for too long we have heard your bullshit with regards to fighting climate change" - or, in other words: "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; and fool me thrice ...?"

Case in point (only but a very small sample, by the way):

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, four years ago, on the Clean Air Act. “After more than a decade of inaction on the environment by the previous government, Canada’s Clean Air Act is the first step in turning things around to protect the health of Canadians.”

Environment Minister John Baird, three years ago, on the Bali climate talks. “With the United States now signed on to this framework the results of this conference show progress and we see that as an important first step.”

Environment Minister Jim Prentice, last February, on the submission of Canada’s emission targets to the Copenhagen accord. “We took our first step down that road on Sunday, January 31, 2010.”

Environment Minister John Baird, this weekend, on the Cancun accord. “This represents the first step to a single, new legally binding agreement … A first step.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, last week, on the Copenhagen accord. “Mr. Speaker, the Copenhagen accord was only a first step.”

When always stuck at "first step", you go nowhere fast - eh?

Follow the (non)Leaders, indeed ...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monitoring North America

In a way, it is with relief that I find I am not one of the "tinfoil hat" paranoid/conspiracy theorist crowd, yet at the same time feel dismay at being proven right yet again.

Pertaining to what, you ask?

Why, that Big Brother has not only arrived, but that he has been here for quite a while at that.

Case in point, today's expansive article in the Washington Post by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, "Monitoring America" (note: that a mainstream/corporate media outlet can still occasionally manage to report the truth of things, instead of simply acting as a defender, stenographer and/or mouthpiece for Teh Power Establishment, is remarkable). Here are the highlights (emphasis added):
* The United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.

* The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

* The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.

* This localized intelligence apparatus is part of a larger Top Secret America created since the attacks. In July, The Washington Post described an alternative geography of the United States, one that has grown so large, unwieldy and secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs or how many programs exist within it.

* Nowadays, a web of 4,058 federal, state and local organizations, each with its own counterterrorism responsibilities and jurisdictions. At least 935 of these organizations have been created since the 2001 attacks or became involved in counterterrorism for the first time after 9/11.

* Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America.

* The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. It is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators, increasing concerns that it could somehow end up in the public domain.

* Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies.

* The Department of Homeland Security sends its state and local partners intelligence reports with little meaningful guidance, and state reports have sometimes inappropriately reported on lawful meetings.

* The total cost of the localized system is also hard to gauge. The DHS has given $31 billion in grants since 2003 to state and local governments for homeland security and to improve their ability to find and protect against terrorists, including $3.8 billion in 2010. At least four other federal departments also contribute to local efforts. But the bulk of the spending every year comes from state and local budgets that are too disparately recorded to aggregate into an overall total.

* The public face of this pivotal effort is Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, which years ago built one of the strongest state intelligence organizations outside of New York to try to stop illegal immigration and drug importation. Napolitano has taken her "See Something, Say Something" campaign far beyond the traffic signs that ask drivers coming into the nation's capital for "Terror Tips" and to "Report Suspicious Activity." She recently enlisted the help of Wal-Mart, Amtrak, major sports leagues, hotel chains and metro riders. In her speeches, she compares the undertaking to the Cold War fight against communists.

* The DHS is enamored with collecting photos, video images and other personal information about U.S. residents in the hopes of teasing out terrorists.

* Now, a police officer can simply drive around, and the automatic license plate reader on his hood captures the numbers on every vehicle nearby. If the officer pulls over a driver, he can use a hand-held device to instantly call up a mug shot, a Social Security number, the status of the driver's license and any outstanding warrants. The computer in the cruiser can tell an officer even more about who owns the vehicle, the owner's name and address and criminal history, and who else with a criminal history might live at the same address.

* At the same time that the FBI is expanding its West Virginia fingerprint database, it is building another vast repository controlled by people who work in a top-secret vault on the fourth floor of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington. This one stores the profiles of tens of thousands of Americans and legal residents who are not accused of any crime. What they have done is appear to be acting suspiciously to a town sheriff, a traffic cop or even a neighbor. The effectiveness of this database depends, in fact, on collecting the identities of people who are not known criminals or terrorists - and on being able to quickly compile in-depth profiles of them. The name of this system: The Guardian.

* The Guardian system will include biometric data. The FBI is working on a way to attach such information to files. Meanwhile, the bureau will also soon have software that allows local agencies to map all suspicious incidents in their jurisdiction.

* The Defense Department is also interested in the database. It recently transferred 100 reports of suspicious behavior into the Guardian system, and over time it expects to add thousands more as it connects 8,000 military law enforcement personnel to an FBI portal that will allow them to send and review reports about people suspected of casing U.S. bases or targeting American personnel. And the DHS has created a separate way for state and local authorities, private citizens, and businesses to submit suspicious activity reports to the FBI and to the department for analysis.

* As of December, there were 161,948 suspicious activity files in the classified Guardian database, mostly leads from FBI headquarters and state field offices. Two years ago, the bureau set up an unclassified section of the database so state and local agencies could send in suspicious incident reports and review those submitted by their counterparts in other states. Some 890 state and local agencies have sent in 7,197 reports so far.

* The DHS also provides local agencies a daily flow of information bulletins. These reports are meant to inform agencies about possible terror threats. But some officials say they deliver a never-ending stream of information that is vague, alarmist and often useless.

* The vast majority of data fusion centers across the country have transformed themselves into analytical hubs for all crimes and are using federal grants, handed out in the name of homeland security, to combat everyday offenses. This is happening because, after 9/11, local law enforcement groups did what every agency and private company did in Top Secret America: They followed the money.

* One example: the fact that there has not been much terrorism to worry about is not evident on the Tennessee fusion center's Web site. Click on the incident map, and the state appears to be under attack. Red icons of explosions dot Tennessee, along with blinking exclamation marks and flashing skulls. The map is labeled: "Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity. But if you roll over the icons, the explanations that pop up have nothing to do with major terrorist plots.

* Another example: in Virginia, the state's fusion center published a terrorism threat assessment in 2009 naming historically black colleges as potential hubs for terrorism.

* Yet another example: in Pennsylvania this year, a local contractor hired to write intelligence bulletins filled them with information about lawful meetings as varied as Pennsylvania Tea Party Patriots Coalition gatherings, antiwar protests and an event at which environmental activists dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out coal-filled stockings.

* And yet another (discussed previously here, here and here): from 2005 to 2007, the Maryland State Police labeled as terrorists local groups devoted to human rights, antiwar causes and bike lanes.
So, here's the dynamic in a nutshell:
1 - Governmental security agencies (DHS, FBI, et al.) keep scaring local police departments about how terrorists are everywhere and bribe them with tons of money to help them flush out terrorists before they act;

2- In turn, the paranoia-enhanced local law enforcement departments go out of their way to spot potential crimes, any potential crimes, before they happen.

3- Then government and local law enforcement/security agencies further enhance mutually their paranoia, at the same time that of national/local elected representatives, the media and the population, thus justifying after the fact centralized databases of data gathering, sharing and storage on everyone.
In other words, as I've said before over and over and over and over again:
A- It is a given, demonstrated fact that governmental security agencies are not seekers of truth, but seekers of guilt. Whenever they are given any powers to spy on their own citizens, they will do so - for reasons frivolous, paranoid or (apparently very rarely as shown so far) actually justified. Anything and nothing can - and will - be held against you. Because in the mindset of governmental security and law enforcement agencies, everyone is suspect, everyone is guilty. Period.

B- Anything can and will be viewed by law enforcement and security agencies within the narrow, paranoid prism of terrorism and threats to security. Anything. From blogging to writing a dissenting letter to a newspaper editor to a journalist trying to do investigative work to gathering at a coffee shop to rant about politics to reading "suspicious" stuff (books, blogs) to organizing/participating in activist actions (letter/phone/email campaigns, peaceful protests), etc., etc., etc. Because any such activities may or may not -immediately or at some point in time or never at all - lead to acts which may or may not "threaten the safety and security of citizens or the integrity of the country's critical infrastructure". So just in case and to be safe, let's monitor and survey and spy away on the citizenry.

C- Hence, no one is safe, because everyone is potentially guilty. And no, you may never know whether you are being put under surveillance. And no, the public does not have a right to know even when such indiscriminate gathering of data on someone is court-approved after the fact or not - if ever. Ergo: You are guilty until proven guilty.
To all of that, add the following:
1- The free sharing of intelligence databases between American security agencies and Canadian ones paves the way for full, unrestrained and potentially abusive domestic spying-by-proxy on both sides of the border. Why? Because Americans can spy on Canadians without warrants and Canadians can spy on Americans without warrants, being allowed to store their data into databases ... which are in turn freely shared between American and Canadian security agencies.

2- Such sharing of data includes everything, even the indiscriminate gathering of private data about your credit card transactions, internet web sites visited, and so on and so forth.

3- The "straightforward" willingness of corporations to not only help/enable law enforcement and security agencies constitutes but a means to secure governments under their own corporate thumbs.
Considering the recent news that the Harper government is (secretly) negociating harmonization of security measures with the US, just do the math.

Or, to put it another way:
One of the hallmarks of an authoritarian government is its fixation on hiding everything it does behind a wall of secrecy while simultaneously monitoring, invading and collecting files on everything its citizenry does. Based on the Francis Bacon aphorism that "knowledge is power," this is the extreme imbalance that renders the ruling class omnipotent and citizens powerless.
Hence, it all adds up to this: welcome to your Authoritarian Corporatocratic Security Surveillance State of North America.

This is where we are now. This is what we are now.

Yet, I still say: these are not the criminals you are looking for.

Because I still give a fuck about our constitutions, our civil rights and our democracies - so no need to thank me.

But how I wish I'd been wrong about this all along.

I guess you can't always get what you want, eh?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"These Are Not The Criminals You Are Looking For"

I remain simultaneously amazed and appalled that the cux of the matter of the activities of WikiLeaks is not so much about the contents of what WikiLeaks actually leaks, but rather about WikiLeaks itself, their motives and the terrible, horrible danger they represent.

Indeed, the overwhelming majority of mainstream/corporate media outlets stenographers and mouthpieces keep dutifully harping relentlessly that the activities of WikiLeaks put countless lives at risk - whether they leak about Iraq, Afghanistan or diplomatic cables. That is indeed what we read, see and/or hear time and time and time and time again. Hey - didn't you know? WikiLeaks not only has blood on their hands, but they are endangering lives around the world!

Except of course that, no, not a single life was/has been endangered despite the propaganda run by the US government and a compliant mainstream/corporate media to the contrary.

Be that as it may, you won't hear much of those facts, but instead about how Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and any and all collaborators require the harshest punishments one can think of for their despicable, repugnant crimes against Humanity.

Take for instance that non-human monster Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army Private who has been accused of leaking classified documents (to WikiLeaks), yet remains to be tried and found guilty. Here's one degenerate evul bastard that deserves all that he is currently "getting" (emphasis added):
Detained U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning's supporters went public with their concerns about the harsh conditions of his imprisonment — he has no access to exercise or even a pillow and bedsheets during his solitary confinement — only after their complaints to the military over several months went unheeded.

As Salon's Glenn Greenwald reported on Wednesday, Manning, who has been accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of any crime but has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico "under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture."

"We were aware of those situations and we were hoping that they would improve without applying public pressure through the media," Jeff Paterson, who runs Manning's legal defense fund, told The Huffington Post. "His attorney and supporters were hoping that this could be taken care of through the appropriate channels."

Paterson says that Manning is "very annoyed" at the conditions of his confinement, adding that he is primarily upset at his inability to exercise. "He sits in this small box, for the most part only to take a shower - he just sits and eats and four months have gone by."

According to Paterson, Manning has been examined by Quantico's mental health officials, who declared that he is not a suicide risk -- yet he continues to be held in solitary confinement which is consistent with a suicide watch. His overall mental health evaluation, which was begun in September, is still ongoing and should be wrapped up in a few weeks, says Paterson. Manning's attorney, David Coombs did not return calls for comment. A spokesperson for the Pentagon did not return calls for comment.

Aye indeed, rejoice at how we are paying back Manning-Teh-Bane-Of-Freedom for all his (not-yet-found-guilty-for) crimes (emphasis added):
Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months -- and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait -- under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.

(...) Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a "Maximum Custody Detainee," the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs.

(...) In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything. And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.

Just by itself, the type of prolonged solitary confinement to which Manning has been subjected for many months is widely viewed around the world as highly injurious, inhumane, punitive, and arguably even a form of torture. In his widely praised March, 2009 New Yorker article -- entitled "Is Long-Term Solitary Confinement Torture?" -- the surgeon and journalist Atul Gawande assembled expert opinion and personal anecdotes to demonstrate that, as he put it, "all human beings experience isolation as torture." By itself, prolonged solitary confinement routinely destroys a person’s mind and drives them into insanity. A March, 2010 article in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law explains that "solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture."

For that reason, many Western nations -- and even some non-Western nations notorious for human rights abuses -- refuse to employ prolonged solitary confinement except in the most extreme cases of prisoner violence.

(...) It's one thing to impose such punitive, barbaric measures on convicts who have proven to be violent when around other prisoners; at the Supermax in Florence, inmates convicted of the most heinous crimes and who pose a threat to prison order and the safety of others are subjected to worse treatment than what Manning experiences. But it's another thing entirely to impose such conditions on individuals, like Manning, who have been convicted of nothing and have never demonstrated an iota of physical threat or disorder.

In 2006, a bipartisan National Commission on America's Prisons was created and it called for the elimination of prolonged solitary confinement. Its Report documented that conditions whereby "prisoners end up locked in their cells 23 hours a day, every day. . . is so severe that people end up completely isolated, living in what can only be described as torturous conditions." The Report documented numerous psychiatric studies of individuals held in prolonged isolation which demonstrate "a constellation of symptoms that includes overwhelming anxiety, confusion and hallucination, and sudden violent and self-destructive outbursts." The above-referenced article from the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law states: "Psychological effects can include anxiety, depression, anger, cognitive disturbances, perceptual distortions, obsessive thoughts, paranoia, and psychosis."

When one exacerbates the harms of prolonged isolation with the other deprivations to which Manning is being subjected, long-term psychiatric and even physical impairment is likely.

(...) Manning is barred from communicating with any reporters, even indirectly, so nothing he has said can be quoted here. But David House, a 23-year-old MIT researcher who befriended Manning after his detention (and then had his laptops, camera and cellphone seized by Homeland Security when entering the U.S.) is one of the few people to have visited Manning several times at Quantico. He describes palpable changes in Manning's physical appearance and behavior just over the course of the several months that he's been visiting him. Like most individuals held in severe isolation, Manning sleeps much of the day, is particularly frustrated by the petty, vindictive denial of a pillow or sheets, and suffers from less and less outdoor time as part of his one-hour daily removal from his cage.

This is why the conditions under which Manning is being detained were once recognized in the U.S. -- and are still recognized in many Western nations -- as not only cruel and inhumane, but torture. More than a century ago, U.S. courts understood that solitary confinement was a barbaric punishment that severely harmed the mental and physical health of those subjected to it. The Supreme Court's 1890 decision in In re Medley noted that as a result of solitary confinement as practiced in the early days of the United States, many "prisoners fell, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition . . . and others became violently insane; others still, committed suicide; while those who stood the ordeal better . . . [often] did not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community." And in its 1940 decision in Chambers v. Florida, the Court characterized prolonged solitary confinement as "torture" and compared it to "[t]he rack, the thumbscrew, [and] the wheel."

The inhumane treatment of Manning may have international implications as well. There are multiple proceedings now pending in the European Union Human Rights Court, brought by "War on Terror" detainees contesting their extradition to the U.S. on the ground that the conditions under which they likely will be held -- particularly prolonged solitary confinement -- violate the European Convention on Human Rights, which (along with the Convention Against Torture) bars EU states from extraditing anyone to any nation where there is a real risk of inhumane and degrading treatment. The European Court of Human Rights has in the past found detention conditions violative of those rights (in Bulgaria) where "the [detainee] spent 23 hours a day alone in his cell; had limited interaction with other prisoners; and was only allowed two visits per month." From the Journal article referenced above:

International treaty bodies and human rights experts, including the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, have concluded that solitary confinement may amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. They have specifically criticized supermax confinement in the United States because of the mental suffering it inflicts.

Subjecting a detainee like Manning to this level of prolonged cruel and inhumane detention can thus jeopardize the ability of the U.S. to secure extradition for other prisoners, as these conditions are viewed in much of the civilized world as barbaric. (...) Whatever else is true, all of this illustrates what a profound departure from international norms is the treatment to which the U.S. Government is subjecting him.

Oh yes - Manning-Teh-Evil-One deserves all that - and so much, much more (emphasis added):

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was caught on video at a book signing at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif. saying that the leaker should be executed.

"Whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason," Huckabee said. "I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty."

"They've put American lives at risk," he said. "They’ve put relationships that will take decades to rebuild at risk, and they knew full well that they were handling sensitive documents, they were entrusted and anyone who had access to that level of information was not only a person who understood what their rules were, but they also signed under oath a commitment that they would not violate it. They did."

"And I believe they have committed treason against this country, and any lives they endanger, they’re personally responsible for and the blood is on their hands," he added.

Yessiree, indeed (emphasis added):
Speaking on his Monday show, (Bill) O'Reilly said that the leaking of the cables, which have sparked a global diplomatic crisis and unearthed scores of revelations about the inner workings of the State Department, was an outrage.

"Whoever leaked all those State Department documents to the WikiLeaks website is a traitor and should be executed or put in prison for life," he said (...).

O'Reilly then turned to Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst who has been widely tipped as the source for WikiLeaks. If guilty, he said, Manning "is a traitor and should be given life and hard labor in a military prison."
While we're at it, we must make his equally depraved, equally suspect and equally evul supporters pay for their horrific crimes of ... supporting him. Here's one example (emphasis added):
Last Wednesday, November 3, David House, a 23-year-old researcher who works at MIT, was returning to the U.S. from a short vacation with his girlfriend in Mexico,(...). House's crime: he did work in helping set up the Bradley Manning Support Network, an organization created to raise money for Manning's legal defense fund, and he has now visited Manning three times in Quantico, Virginia, where the accused WikiLeaks leaker is currently being detained (all those visits are fully monitored by government agents). (...) House has never been accused of any crime, never been advised that he's under investigation, and was never told by any federal agents that he's suspected of any wrongdoing at all.

Last Wednesday, House arrived at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, and his flight was met in the concourse by customs agents, who examined the passports of all deplaning passengers until they saw House's, at which point they stopped. He was then directed to Customs, where his and his girlfriend's bags were extensively searched. After the search was complete, two men identifying themselves as Homeland Security officials told House and his girlfriend they were being detained for questioning and would miss their connecting flight. House was told that he was required to relinquish all of his electronic products, and thus gave them his laptop, cellphone, digital camera and UBS flash drive. The document he received itemizing his seized property is here. He was also told to give the agents all of his passwords and encryption keys, which he refused to do.

House was then taken to a detention room by two armed agents and on his way there, he passed by a room in which several individuals were plugging various instruments into his laptop and cellphone. The two agents, Marcial Santiago and Darin Louck, proceeded to question him for 90 minutes about why he was visiting Manning in prison, what work he did to support the Manning campaign, who else was involved in the Manning support group, and what his views were on WikiLeaks. He was told that he would not receive his laptop or camera back, and the agents kept it. To date, he has not received them back and very well may never. When he told them that he had roughly 20 hours of source code work in his laptop and would like to save it or email it to a saved site, they told him he could not do that. He subsequently learned from Agent Santiago that although Agent Louck identified himself as a Homeland Security agent, he is, in fact, with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

And while we're still at it, let us make sure that Manning-Teh-Doombringer finds himself bereft of the means to pay for his defense when his trial finally comes along (emphasis added):
(...) despite WikiLeaks' promise to help fund Manning's legal defense, the organization has not forwarded any funds. CBS News reported last week that WikiLeaks had promised $20,000. (...) a brief message from the Wau Holland Foundation in Germany, the main fundraising platform for WikiLeaks, (stated) that the foundation faces a possible audit by German authorities and that it cannot promise any funds at this time. As of last week, the defense fund had raised $95,000 from 1,350 people (...).
Then again, let us not forget that Manning-Teh-Spawn-Of-Darkness is nothing, nuthin', compared to the Great Malevolency-Of-All-Time that is Julian Assange - a.k.a. Teh Dark Overlord (emphasis added):

Conservative outrage over the WikiLeaks release of secret State Department cables has reached a fever pitch, with Rep. Pete King (R-NY) — who will chair the Homeland Security Committee in the new Congress — demanding the group be declared a terrorist organization. Former GOP Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum echoed King yesterday, saying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is guilty of “terrorism,” while a number of Republican lawmakers have called for treason charges against suspected leaker Bradley Manning. Meanwhile, a number of conservative figures have fantasized about committing bodily harm to Assange.

But former Bush speechwriter-cum-leading torture advocate Marc Thiessen took this outrage to comic heights last night on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show. Proving that neoconservatives never miss an opportunity to call for war, Thiessen suggested that if diplomacy fails to capture Assange, the U.S. should “go and get him” — with or without his host country’s permission:

THIESSEN: There are plenty of tools at our disposal. … But failing that, we can act unilaterally. We can go and get him without another country’s permission. We did it with General Noriega — there’s authority within the Office of Legal Counsel and that we can go and take anybody anywhere in the world.

That is why we must do anything, any-thing, to not only catch him (for whatever reason allegation, such as rape sexual assault sexual molestation sexual abuse sexual harassment sexual impropriety - i.e. having consensual sex without a condom) but furthermore do everything we can so that he stays caught (emphasis added):

British prosecutors, rather than Swedish officials, are behind the effort to keep WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from being granted bail, the Guardian reports.

Assange was granted bail by a London judge on Tuesday, but remained in custody reportedly because of plans by Swedish prosecutors to appeal the decision.

"But today the Swedish prosecutor's office told the Guardian it had 'not got a view at all on bail' and that Britain had made the decision to oppose bail," the newspaper reported.

"The decision was made by the British prosecutor," Swedish prosecution service spokeswoman Karin Rosander said. "I got it confirmed by the CPS this morning that the decision to appeal the granting of bail was entirely a matter for the CPS. The Swedish prosecutors are not entitled to make decisions within Britain. It is entirely up to the British authorities to handle it."

Assange's lawyers "reacted with shock" the news, the Guardian reports, saying they had been informed by prosecutors it was Sweden who had insisted on the appeal.

British prosecutors will reportedly request that Assange be kept in jail until his extradition hearing is complete.

According to his lawyer, Mark Stephens, Assange is being held in solitary confinement for 23-1/2 hours per day.

"He is in isolation. He doesn't have access to newspapers or television or other news devices. He is not getting mail, he is subject to the pettiest forms of censorship," Stephens said.

Oh yes - nothing but a segregation unit for Teh Dark Overlord while we have him in custody. And let us be afraid that Teh-Prime-Internet-Archfiend has been given limited access to the (shriek!!!) internets - why, he's a veritable ticking time bomb (emphasis added):
MSNBC on the Assange bail hearing:
Stephanie Gosk: the Swedish authorities had two hours to challenge this decision and that's exactly what they've done and it has to be heard by Britains high court within the next 48 hours and that means that Julian assange will be in jail during that time. If they lose that case, and Julian Assange is granted bail as the magistrate has granted him today, he will be allowed to go but he has to stay at a registered address and one of his supporters, luckily enough, has a 600 acre mansion in southern England and he's going to be allowed to stay there. He's not going to be free to run around, he's going to have electronic surveillance, he has a curfew and he's already turned in his passport. But it has been a victory today, a small one, he trying to fight that extradition back to Sweden.

Andrea Mitchell: He can be on a 600 acre estate with all sorts of electronic monitoring ... but can he go on the internet?!
... and sexually assault some female avatars and then destroy us all with his x-ray vision and cyber-army?? Run for your lives!
Uncannily, and woe to all of Humanity, Teh Dark Overlord did manage to be freed on bail after all. Therefore, better keep working hard to find something else, anything else (and precedents be damned!), in order to keep him in our righteous clutches (emphasis added):
Federal prosecutors, seeking to build a case against the WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange for his role in a huge dissemination of classified government documents, are looking for evidence of any collusion in his early contacts with an Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the information.

Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system.

If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.

Among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service as the soldier was downloading government files.

Private Manning is also said to have claimed that Mr. Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.

Adrian Lamo, an ex-hacker in whom Private Manning confided and who eventually turned him in, said Private Manning detailed those interactions in instant-message conversations with him.
(Well okay - maybe relying of this shady, glory-seeking, credibility-lacking Lamo dude might be overreaching a bit to find anything to pin on Assange - but what the hell, if it works ...)

Still, in the meantime, we must also attack Teh Dark Overlord's depraved, extremely dangerous, evul Deathdealers - here's one example (emphasis added):
In July of this year, U.S. citizen Jacob Appelbaum, a researcher and spokesman for WikiLeaks, was detained for several hours at the Newark airport after returning from a trip to Holland, and had his laptop, cellphones and other electronic products seized -- all without a search warrant, without being charged with a crime, and without even being under investigation, at least to his knowledge. He was interrogated at length about WikiLeaks, and was told by the detaining agents that he could expect to be subjected to the same treatment every time he left the country and attempted to return to the U.S. Days later, two FBI agents approached him at a computer conference he was attending in New York and asked to speak with him again. To date, he has never been charged with any crime or even told he's under investigation for anything; this was clearly a thuggish attempt by federal officials to intimidate any American citizen involved with or supporting WikiLeaks.
Concomitantly, we must make it crystal clear that no one, not a single citizen, make the grave mistake of becoming an accomplice of such horrible crimes against the World by discussing and disseminating the contents of the data posted online by WikiLeaks (emphasis added):
(...) would (the) State (Department) look unfavorably upon a prospective employee who had written about the leaked cables on Facebook? "To talk about current events is one thing," (State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson) said. "Would talking about it make you ineligible for a job at the State Department? No. But to go into detail, and propagate information that was illegally obtained — I don't think that's a good move for anyone. Not Julian Assange, not WikiLeaks, and not any U.S. citizen."
Go that, We The People? Look away, keep your head low, and continue on being pliable, uninformed and easily controllable sheep good citizens. Q.E.D.

Hence, we must go all out on this - a few examples for your consideration:
(...) As yet another note added in proof - Library of Congress is latest government institution to block WikiLeaks. We're talking about the Library of Congress, here: "The Library's mission is to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations". Their excuse for blocking WikiLeaks? Read it and weep: "The Library decided to block WikiLeaks because applicable law obligates federal agencies to protect classified information. Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents do not alter the documents' classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents". Hypocrisy, much? Now, do you still doubt that democracy is dying? Do you even care at all?

(...) And here's yet another note added in proof - attacks on WikiLeaks are part of an attack on free speech, aided by the companies that make up the Web's backbone. So - once again: Welcome to your Corporatocratic Security Surveillance State.

(...) Meanwhile ... White House tells all federal agencies to prohibit employees from WikiLeaks site. Ah yes - the land of the free, the defender of freedom and democracy, the champion of liberty ... no more.

(...) The Corporatocracy (i.e. Corporate America and its international allies) keeps on relentlessly pummeling WikiLeaks - indeed, PayPal has dropped WikiLeaks' account for donations. Here's the dubious reason: "PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity". And never mind that while it is a crime to leak classified information, receiving and publishing it is not. So - welcome again to your Authoritarian Corporatocracy, eh?

(...) Of course, U.S. soldiers who go online to read about the WikiLeaks disclosures, or even simply read coverage of them in mainstream news sites, get a page warning them that they're about to break the law. Moreover, the same applies to Canadian soldiers and Defense staff - as per ordered by the assistant deputy minister for information management!
We have to be relentless - indeed (emphasis added):

The outrageous behavior of Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal directed at WikiLeaks represents a much greater threat to America than any of the alleged security breaches from Julian Assange.....Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal set themselves up as judges, juries and executioners.

And perhaps more troubling is that while the mainstream media happily regurgitated, repurposed and -- in the case of The New York Times -- reported the context of the released diplomatic cables, they have been noticeably silent as web conglomerates reshaped the First Amendment. Or, as in the case of The Washington Post and The Washington Times, they've joined the ninnies calling for Assange's head. The chief enabler is Barack Obama's Attorney General, Eric H. Holder who announced that the Justice Department and the Pentagon were in the midst of "an ongoing criminal investigation."

The key word is "investigation." The Attorney General has yet to charge anyone, let alone bring the case.

We must also make new laws and/or rewrite those already in the books in order to a) prevent leaks from ever happening again, and b) prevent their dissemination offline and online. Even if all media must be censored!

But waitaminit - media censoring?!? Why yes, indeed, for the dissemination of leaks that expose our lies, our deceits, our betrayal and destruction of the very principles and values upon which our democratic societies are founded upon - but definitely not for disseminating the necessary propaganda meant to demonize the Mannings, Assanges and WikiLeaks of the world and successfully turn the fear-driven and disinformed/uninformed We Teh People against those nefarious monsters and Freedom-Killing bastards (emphasis added):
Poll: Americans say WikiLeaks harmed public interest; most want Assange arrested

The American public is highly critical of the recent release of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks Web site and would support the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by U.S. authorities, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.

Most of those polled - 68 percent - say the WikiLeaks' exposure of government documents about the State Department and U.S. diplomacy harms the public interest. Nearly as many - 59 percent - say the U.S. government should arrest Assange and charge him with a crime for releasing the diplomatic cables.

(Hey - it worked already with torture acceptance, agreement for the use of body scanners, growing acceptance of pat-downs, accepting CCTV to feel secure, giving up liberties for security, and so on, so ...)

All of the above owing thanks to our mainstream/corporate media which has long ago relinquished its function as the 4th estate in order to function instead as the mouthpieces and defenders of the power and corporate establishment to which they have become complying subservient peons.

The following illustrates the entirety of the point (emphasis added):

Last night on his Fox News show, Sean Hannity interviewed Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and expressed his outrage that Weiner wants the rich to pay more in taxes. Noting that Weiner is from New York, Hannity said, “Let’s go through the New York numbers.” The Fox News host then said if Weiner had his way, New Yorkers would be paying “55, 60″ percent of “earned income,” a figure he calculated by including federal, state, and city taxes, sales tax, property tax, estate tax and “other hidden taxes.” “Why do you think you have a right to tax 60 percent of people’s money?” Hannity asked.

Weiner replied that it’s not about wanting to tax anyone, that “it is just about choices.” “I choose to stay on the side of the middle class. You want to defend the rich,” Weiner told Hannity, adding, “You want to borrow for Rupert Murdoch’s tax break,” referring to Hannity’s boss and billionaire News Corp. chairman. However, Hannity wouldn’t budge, and he didn’t dispute his love for Murdoch:

WEINER: If you give a tax cut to Rupert Murdoch. — We got to borrow the money to pay Rupert Murdoch’s tax break. You want to do that?

HANNITY: Listen, thank God, you know why for Rupert Murdoch? — Rupert Murdoch is a job creator. Rupert Murdoch is a taxpayer, Rupert Murdoch donates to charity and more than you do Congressman.

WEINER: He’s a very fine man. He’s a very fine man but that is not the question. The question is, you want to give him a tax cut and borrow it from my kids, no deal. No deal.

HANNITY: You know what, thank God Rupert Murdoch created a job for me so, I could tell you, you’re taking way too much in spending too much of the taxpayers dollars.

(...) It’s unclear how Hannity concluded that some New Yorkers will end up paying 60 percent of their income on taxes.
What is quite clear, however, is how cozily the majority of mainstream/corporate journalists and reporters and pundits are treated by the Power establishment they so adore (emphasis added):

A former health insurance insider turned whistleblower says that he was not only surprised at how “easy” it was to manipulate members of the news media over the years, but also reveals that he routinely “wined and dined” reporters from major news outlets – including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – in return for favorable coverage.

In his new book Deadly Spin, Wendell Potter describes how his chief function as a senior public relations officer at two of the largest for-profit health insurance companies in the United States – Humana and Cigna – was to “perpetuate myths that had no other purpose but to sustain those companies’ extraordinary high profitability.”

But in an extended interview with Raw Story last week, Potter went further, revealing that he lunched with reporters at major media outlets for years – including journalists at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – as well as those from local and regional media, in most cases picking up the tab, which he says directly resulted in positive coverage of the companies he represented.

And that is just the tip of a very big iceberg. The following says it all:
Shortly after the last document “dump” (notice how the corporate mainstream media has taken to speaking of it all in terms of a bowel movement), writer David Brooks, the ultimate establishment courtesan, had this to say Dec. 1 (emphasis mine):

“The [New York] Times has thus erected a series of filters between the 250,000 raw documents that WikiLeaks obtained and complete public exposure. The paper has released only a tiny percentage of the cables. Information that might endanger informants has been redacted. Specific cables have been put into context with broader reporting.

“Yet it might be useful to consider one more filter. Consider it the World Order filter. The fact that we live our lives amid order and not chaos is the great achievement of civilization. This order should not be taken for granted.

This order is tenuously maintained by brave soldiers but also by talkative leaders and diplomats. Every second of every day, leaders and diplomats are engaged in a never-ending conversation. The leaked cables reveal this conversation…

“This fragile international conversation is under threat. It’s under threat from anarchistic vandals like WikiLeaks…

“It should be possible to erect a filter that protects not only lives and operations but also international relationships. … We depend on those human conversations for the limited order we enjoy every day.”

Thank you, Big Brother. Brooks looks and sounds as if he sprang right out of central casting for the role of “President of the Group” in the upcoming Brave New World movie. Sadly, he is not the only one.

The following characterizes bluntly but truly the current state of mainstream/corporate media:
The Wikileaks saga has exposed the vapid stupidity of the celebrity press corps like nothing since the Great Clinton Panty Raid. One thing is very, very clear --- they aren't journalists and don't even consider themselves journalists. They are celebrity public relations professionals who just aren't as bright as the real public relations professionals.
Hence, it is therefore quite "normal" that the mainstream/corporate media paid-for Power-Establishment mouthpieces would happily write and/or say anything in order to help their Masters demonize the Mannings, Assanges and WikiLeaks of the world.

Can anyone deny the outright character assassination that has been going on with regards to Julian Assange, to WikiLeaks? Indeed:
It has been, by any standard, an extraordinary campaign of vilification and persecution, wholly comparable to the kind of treatment doled out to dissidents in China or Burma. Lest we forget, WikiLeaks is a journalistic outlet – just like The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, all of whom are even now publishing the very same material – leaked classified documents -- available on WikiLeaks. The website is also a journalistic outlet just like CNN, ABC, CBS, Fox and other mainstream media venues, where we have seen an endless parade of officials – and journalists! – calling for Assange to be prosecuted or killed outright. Every argument being made for shutting down WikiLeaks can – and doubtless will – be used against any journalistic enterprise that publishes material that powerful people do not like.
The same can be said for that aforementioned Manning-Teh-Bastard, for whom your repugnance, vile disgust and hatred should increase a hundred fold upon learning what he actually stands for:
(...) just recall some of what Manning purportedly said about why he chose to leak, at least as reflected in the edited chat logs published by Wired:

Lamo: what's your endgame plan, then?. . .

Manning: well, it was forwarded to [WikiLeaks] - and god knows what happens now - hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms - if not, than [sic] we're doomed - as a species - i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens - the reaction to the video gave me immense hope; CNN's iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded - people who saw, knew there was something wrong . . . Washington Post sat on the video… David Finkel acquired a copy while embedded out here. . . . - i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.

if i knew then, what i knew now - kind of thing, or maybe im just young, naive, and stupid . . . im hoping for the former - it cant be the latter - because if it is… were fucking screwed (as a society) - and i dont want to believe that we’re screwed.

Manning described the incident which first made him seriously question the U.S. Government: when he was instructed to work on the case of Iraqi "insurgents" who had been detained for distributing so-called "insurgent" literature which, when Manning had it translated, turned out to be nothing more than "a scholarly critique against PM Maliki":

i had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled "Where did the money go?" and following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn’t want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees…

i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against…

And Manning explained why he never considered the thought of selling this classified information to a foreign nation for substantial profit or even just secretly transmitting it to foreign powers, as he easily could have done:

Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious- i could've sold to russia or china, and made bank?

Lamo: why didn’t you?

Manning: because it's public data

Lamo: i mean, the cables

Manning: it belongs in the public domain -information should be free - it belongs in the public domain - because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge - if its out in the open… it should be a public good.

That's a whistleblower in the purest and most noble form: discovering government secrets of criminal and corrupt acts and then publicizing them to the world not for profit, not to give other nations an edge, but to trigger "worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms." Given how much Manning has been demonized -- at the same time that he's been rendered silent by the ban on his communication with any media -- it's worthwhile to keep all of that in mind.

Ergo: that is why you do not read, see or hear from the overwhelming majority of the mainstream/corporate media outlets barely a blip (if anything at all) regarding the way Bradley Manning is being treated, the way Assange is being targeted for demonization and outright character assassination, or the real motives behind calls for WikiLeaks to be defined as terrorists and/or enemy combatants.

It is the very same reason why the Power/Corporate Establishment is willing to do anything to destroy WikiLeaks - present or future.

And the reason is quite simple:
As with all free speech, as with Wikileaks, context is key. It is vital to know when governments collude in torture or other illegal acts. It is important to know when they say one thing in private (about a particular world leader) and do quite another in public. (...) These questions, and more, are vital for the democratic debate. The answers inevitably cause embarrassment. That too is essential for a healthy civil society.
Thus I reiterate:
A democratic society, whether breathing through a parliamentary system or a republic one, can only bring about - and sustain - the commonwealth and common good of its citizens so long as said citizens remain knowledgeable, respectful and protective of their civil rights as entrenched in the constitution of their democratic society.

How ironic, then, that in these times of mass information so easily accessible, an increasing majority of our citizenry grows uninformed, uncaring or disrespectful of their constitution and their rights - let alone feeling any inclination in participating responsibly in the democratic process of their own society.

And how tragic this sad situation is as well, for it can only lead to one thing: the death of democracy and its replacement by some form of authoritarian regime - whether a corporatocratic one or otherwise.
Yet, we must not forget the current, real danger our democracies are currently facing:
Once again: everyone of us is (potentially, possibly, perhaps, maybe) guilty.

Which leads me to this (h/t), in conclusion (emphasis added):
In times when big business and governments attempt to monitor and control everything, there is a need as never before for an internet that remains a free and universal form of communication. WikiLeaks' chief crime has been to speak truth to power. What is at stake is nothing less than the freedom of the internet. All the rest is a sideshow distracting attention from the real battle that is being fought. We should all keep focus on the true target.
You have been warned.
Or, to put it another way (emphasis added):
WikiLeaks will doubtless try to struggle on. And Assange says he has given the entire diplomatic trove to 100,000 people. By dribs and drabs, shards of truth will get out. But the world’s journalists – and those persons of conscience working in the world’s governments – have been given a hard, harsh, unmistakable lesson in the new realities of our degraded time. Tell a truth that discomforts power, that challenges its domination over our lives, our discourse, our very thoughts, and you will be destroyed. No institution, public or private, will stand with you; the most powerful entities, public and private, will be arrayed against you, backed up by overwhelming violent force. This is where we are now. This is what we are now.
Although Julian Assange may not have quite reached the status of a "Goldstein", I am reminded of Aldous Huxley's words in an interview with Mike Wallace in 1958, as he explained his concept of velvet totalitarianism:
If you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you must get the consent of the ruled. Those in power will do this primarily through techniques of propaganda, by bypassing the rational side of man and appealing to his subconscious and deeper emotions and making him love his slavery.

So in conclusion (and yet another warning): the Mannings, Assanges and WikiLeaks of the world are not the criminals your are looking for.

However, the mainstream/corporate media stenographers/mouthpieces and their Power/Corporate Establishment Masters are.

Good luck.