Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Time for a special counsel

Hope you saw this:


A copy of Hunter Biden's hard drive obtained by the Washington Examiner is indisputably authentic, and there is no evidence of any hacking or file manipulation, according to an examination conducted by a former Secret Service agent who has testified as a cyberforensics expert in numerous trials.

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, is under federal investigation for his taxes shortly after the 2020 election, and is reportedly being scrutinized for potential money laundering, as well as for possible foreign lobbying violations.

The cyberforensics expert, Konstantinos "Gus" Dimitrelos, was hired by the Washington Examiner to conduct the forensic examination to determine the drive's authenticity and whether there were any signs of tampering. Previous reporting by The Washington Post suggested Hunter Biden's laptop may have been hacked for political reasons.


It is time for a special counsel.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:


 Tuesday, May 24, 2022. An Iraqi refugee reflects on the current US government propaganda and much more.

Democrats are limited in what they can do regarding the Supreme Court and ROE V WADE     -- SEVERAL DRIVE-BY E-MAILS TO THE PUBLIC ACCOUNT MAKE THAT CLAIM.


FALSE.


They can codify ROE.  They can get the votes.  You horse trade, you do whatever you have to but you secure 51  votes.  It isn't that difficult and when you look at great Congressional leaders -- in the past, of course, there hasn't been a great leader in Congress in decades -- you see that they did that. by impeaching  Clarence Thomas.  


That's one option.



Another is eliminate five votes.  


 Supposedly, to hear Democrats in Congress on MSNBC, his wife was involved in January 6th, was involved in trying to sway electors, was this and was that.  Are thy just flapping their jaws or are they serious?


Her actions reflect upon her husband because he's got a lifetime post and he's clearly failed to recuse himself on cases where he should have.


So if they're just flapping their gums then they need to shut up.  But if they mean what they're saying, they need to move forward with impeachment.


My guess?  If they're forced to put up or shut up, they'll shut up.


The answer is to make it law and they can do that.  It doesn't appear that they want to.


 Moving over to Iraq . . .


At WSWS, Barry Grey speaks with an Iraqi refugee about the current US attack on Russia:


Barry Grey: I would first like to get your response to the present war being waged in Ukraine and the attempt by the US and NATO to present it as a war for freedom, democracy and national sovereignty.

Adila: As a refugee from Iraq, having been born at the dawn of the Iraq War and my parents, my family having lived through the 13-year sanctions imposed by NATO and the US, we are not foreigners to the propaganda surrounding war.

In recordings of President Bush’s old speeches we hear repeatedly how the US invasion and occupation was a war against terrorism, a war to protect the people of Iraq and the Middle East from the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein supposedly had.

President Bush at a Washington D.C. event made a joke about the weapons of mass destruction, saying, “We’re still looking for them.” It was kind of like him making a mockery of the propaganda he upheld for so many years and then later retracted in a laughing statement, after having essentially murdered over 625,000 children between 2003 and 2006.

The propaganda that is being pumped out today in support of the war against Russia in Ukraine feels like a repeated episode. The same emotions are being evoked—that the war is being fought to preserve freedom. Images of children running away or in bomb shelters are used to insinuate that we need to act fast. The propaganda is being used to push the largest corporate enterprises to place sanctions and holds on their businesses in Russia.

Even my university—I go to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor—has basically divested from Russia. We as Arab and Muslim students have been fighting for the divestment movement since 2002 on this campus, to divest against the apartheid in Palestine. We were always told this is complicated, it cannot happen, you cannot place sanctions on a place because of political views.

But this is exactly what is happening now and you see how it is happening so quickly and easily. All of the corporations and the politicians who are funded by these corporations are showing us how easy it is to divest resources from that region.

BG: The remarks by Bush to which you referred were at the White House Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner in 2004 and ironically you just had the one the other night where Biden congratulated the press for lining up 100 percent behind the government propaganda and refusing to allow the slightest dissenting view on the war against Russia. And in the name of press freedom, they are sanctioning the banning of Russian artists, musicians, media outlets and even cultural treasures.

What is the reality, from your own experience in Iraq and that of your family and since then, of American militarism and imperialism?

 

Adila: I was born in 2002 in Raffah Hospital, central city Baghdad. It’s where my mother was born and her mother before that. It is a really old hospital and one of the really well known hospitals in Iraq.

But after 1990, when the US and NATO placed sanctions against Iraq, essential food, water and medication was not able to reach Iraq for some 13 years. The medical devices were not updated. No medications, including epidural anesthetics, were allowed to be imported into the country.

When my mother gave birth to me, it was her first birth and she had complications during birth. She was in a very bad condition. She had an emergency C-section. I was born in breech, she was in labor for 12 hours without medication and during the procedure she was also unmedicated. So she felt every single cut of the scalpel, every single pain that came with childbirth through a C-section.

My mother is one of hundreds of thousands of women who had to undergo the same ordeal. The death toll we have for the sanctions, before the violent occupation that began in 2003, circles around 623,000. But Iraqi data analysts and physicians expect this number to be around a million.

There was an immense death toll. I think it is referred to as the essential death toll, which means the death toll that we know can be attributed to the violent deaths that occurred. It does not include the slow death from famine, it does not include all the children and mothers who died in childbirth as a result of the ban on medications and imported devices.

One day in 2003, when I was a couple months old, US soldiers barged into my family home and took seven of my uncles and my father and my grandfather to Abu Ghraib prison. They were held there for some time. They were tortured, electrocuted, sexually assaulted, whipped. My father lost an eye.

My father and my uncles were released after several years and pardoned. They were told, “Oops! Sorry, wrong name.”


Bully Boy /bush came out from under his rock last week.  


AP offers, "The 75-year-old former president jokingly blamed the mistake on his age, shaking his head and correcting himself, drawing laughter from the crowd."  It's not a laughing matter.  Arwa Mahdawi  (GUARDIAN) notes:


Tell you what, I’m not laughing. Nor are a lot of Arabs. I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the depravity and horror of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Iraqi prisoners of war – many of whom were innocent people who were arrested by mistake – were violently tortured by US and UK troops. Hundreds of thousands of civilians died. The entire country was left in ruins. And the suffering continued long after the occupying forces left. The US military’s frequent use of munitions containing depleted uranium in Iraq, along with military hardware abandoned by troops, poisoned the environment and the population. Even now babies are being born with severe birth defects linked to the invasion. “Doctors are regularly encountering anomalies in babies that are so gruesome they cannot even find precedents for them,” the lead researcher of a 2019 study said. “The war has spread so much radiation here that, unless it is cleaned up, generations of Iraqis will continue to be affected.” So, yeah, please excuse me if I don’t find Bush’s slip-up particularly funny.

You know what’s even less funny? The fact there has been zero accountability for any of the architects of the Iraq war. Sure, some of the military personnel were convicted of crimes relating to torture of Abu Ghraib prisoners, but the people who were really in charge have faced no consequences whatsoever. Bush himself has had his reputation whitewashed in recent years; he has transformed himself into a cuddly grandpa figure who paints and pontificates about “unity”. As for his coterie of enablers, most of them went on to high-paying jobs and prestigious positions.

Before anyone starts making excuses for the architects of the Iraq war (“how could they have known?”), let me remind you that it was clear from the start that the war – and the flimsy weapons of mass destruction excuse used to justify it – was a sham. In February 2003 millions of people, including myself, in at least 650 cities around the world took to the streets to protest the US-led invasion of Iraq. It was the largest one-day global protest in history. Ordinary people could see the war was immoral and probably illegal – and yet there is a concerted effort in some quarters to rewrite the war as a deeply regrettable lapse in judgment that nobody at the time could really have been expected to get right.


To add insult to injury, the US has not yet issued an apology to Iraqis, and almost two decades after the invasion, some — at least those in Bush's audience on Wednesday — are still laughing about it."  Chip Gibbons (JACOBIN) advises, "If Bush is not going to stand trial for war crimes, he should at the very least have the decency to avoid appearing in public as a moral authority on unjustified invasions. Instead, as Bush’s recent gaffe and his audience’s clear amusement at his misstatement demonstrate, neither Bush nor US society has ever really reckoned with the consequences of his imperialist crusade."  I remember bumping into Chip all over the country back when he was helping to push back against the hideous PATRIOT ACT.  Just tossing that out there because when I saw the byline, I smiled remembering many interesting conversations over the years.  I look forward to reading his upcoming book on the FBI.  At WSWS, Patrick Martin notes:


The World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Party opposed the Iraq war from the very beginning, condemning the support for the war, not only by the Bush administration and the Republican right, but by the bulk of the Democratic Party. It was the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then-Senator Joe Biden, who played a central role in pushing through the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that provided a congressional rubber stamp for the illegal invasion.

In a series of articles in May 2007, the WSWS summed up the devastation inflicted by the US conquest and occupation of Iraq, branding it “sociocide,” the deliberate destruction of an entire society, and pointing out that under both Bush and his father, American imperialism had carried out crimes of the type previously associated only with fascist regimes. We wrote:

Iraq, once among the most advanced countries of the region, has been reduced, in terms of basic economic and social indices, to the level of the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

What is involved is the systematic destruction of an entire society through the unleashing of violence and criminality on a scale not seen since Hitler’s armies ravaged Europe in the Second World War.

Less than a third of the population nationwide has access to clean drinking water, and just 19 percent have a functioning sewage system. Both the water and sewage systems were damaged heavily by US bombardments in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 2003 invasion…

On average, Iraqis receive only eight hours of electricity a day, with even worse conditions in Baghdad, where most of the capital’s seven million people get only six hours or less of service daily.

We noted the 150 percent increase in the infant mortality rate from 1990 to 2005. Half of all Iraq’s children were suffering from malnutrition; only one-third were attending school. Half of Iraq’s doctors had fled the country. Per capita GDP was half that of 1980, and Iraq’s state-owned industries had been privatized and shut down, with the loss of half a million jobs, by an ideologically motivated campaign of the Iraq occupation authority set up by the US in Baghdad. The WSWS concluded:

The premeditated destruction of an entire society carried out on the basis of lies and in pursuit of the financial and geo-strategic interests of America’s ruling elite constitutes a war crime of historic proportions, punishable under the same statutes and on the basis of the same principles as those used to condemn leading figures of Germany’s Third Reich at Nuremberg.

Those responsible for launching the war in Iraq consist not merely of the right-wing Republican cabal grouped around Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. They include also the Democrats who enabled this war, the heads of US energy conglomerates and finance houses that hoped to profit from it and the chiefs of the media monopolies that promoted it. All of these layers, constituting the political establishment and financial aristocracy of the United States, are guilty of the same fundamental crime for which the Nazis were prosecuted nearly 60 years ago: the plotting and waging of a war of aggression. It is from this principal crime that all the multiple crimes and horrors inflicted upon the Iraqi people have flowed.

It is not a matter of justifying Putin’s reactionary attack on Ukraine to point out that the war he launched has produced nothing like the level of destruction inflicted by the US in Iraq.



The Iraqi people suffered and continue to suffer and their country remains occupied.  Millions of dollars, billions, have gone to destruction.  The country is no betr off but the real point of war is never to make lives better.  Chris Hedges (SCHEERPOST) explains how there's always money for war:


The United States, as the near unanimous vote to provide nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine illustrates, is trapped in the death spiral of unchecked militarism. No high speed trains. No universal health care. No viable Covid relief program. No respite from 8.3 percent inflation. No infrastructure programs to repair decaying roads and bridges, which require $41.8 billion to fix the 43,586 structurally deficient bridges, on average 68 years old. No forgiveness of $1.7 trillion in student debt. No addressing income inequality. No program to feed the 17 million children who go to bed each night hungry. No rational gun control or curbing of the epidemic of nihilistic violence and mass shootings. No help for the 100,000 Americans who die each year of drug overdoses. No minimum wage of $15 an hour to counter 44 years of wage stagnation. No respite from gas prices that are projected to hit $6 a gallon.

The permanent war economy, implanted since the end of World War II, has destroyed the private economy, bankrupted the nation, and squandered trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the US debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the US GDP of $ 24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military, $ 813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined.

We are paying a heavy social, political, and economic cost for our militarism. Washington watches passively as the U.S. rots, morally, politically, economically, and physically, while China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, and other countries extract themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network banks and other financial institutions use to send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions. Once the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, once there is an alternative to SWIFT, it will precipitate an internal economic collapse. It will force the immediate contraction of the U.S. empire shuttering most of its nearly 800 overseas military installations. It will signal the death of Pax Americana.

Democrat or Republican. It does not matter. War is the raison d’├ętat of the state. Extravagant military expenditures are justified in the name of “national security.” The nearly $40 billion allocated for Ukraine, most of it going into the hands of weapons manufacturers such as Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, is only the beginning. Military strategists, who say the war will be long and protracted, are talking about infusions of $4 or $5 billion in military aid a month to Ukraine. We face existential threats. But these do not count. The proposed budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2023 is $10.675 billion. The proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is $11.881 billion. Ukraine alone gets more than double that amount. Pandemics and the climate emergency are afterthoughts. War is all that matters. This is a recipe for collective suicide.





The following sites updated: