Conflicts of Interest: In the US, War Criminals Go Free & Heroic Whistleblowers Rot in Jail

On COI #141, Kyle Anzalone breaks down the leak, arrest, and sentencing of drone whistleblower Daniel Hale. While working for a defense contractor at the National Geostrategic Intelligence Agency, Hale handed scores of important documents exposing the drone program to the Intercept. His leak revealed an unconstitutional killing machine that murdered civilians without consequence. 

In 2014, Hale’s residence was raided by federal law enforcement, but half a decade went by before he was arrested and indicted for leaking the documents. During that time, Daniel was an outspoken critic of the empire, appearing in the anti-drone documentary ‘National Bird.’ Hale pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 45 months in jail. However, the criminals exposed by the leaked drone papers remain heroic leaders in the eyes of many Americans. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee added an amendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act that requires women to register for the draft. The move comes as legal challenges to the draft claim it is sexist against men. Rather than make the draft illegal – as it is slavery – politicians are seeking to solve the equality issue by making everyone forfeit their rights. 

The Veterans Affairs department will require 115,000 healthcare personnel to be vaccinated. The move comes before any Covid vaccination has received full approval from the FDA. New York City is making a similar requirement for its more than 300,000 city employees. The mandates raise serious civil liberties questions. 

The US has signaled openness for arms control talks with North Korea and Russia. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the US offered to engage in dialog with North Korea, but it is unclear if Washington is prepared to drop its demand for North Korean disarmament. The Kim government has said the demand is a poison pill for talks. The US opened weapons control talks with Russia in Geneva, first floated during Biden’s June summit with Putin. 

The US continues to ramp up its aggressive posture towards China. The US is beginning the Pacific Iron 21 war games in Guam, and the new UK aircraft carrier – the HMS Queen Elizabeth – entered the South China Sea. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is visiting several southeast Asian countries hoping to grow the anti-China coalition. 

In Ethiopia, fighting continues to spread from the Tigray region. Two regions neighboring Tigray, Afar, and Amhara, have reported that Tigrayian forces attacked their region and are looking to raise their own militia. At the same time, the Somali region of the country reported being attacked by militias from the Afar region, killing 100s of civilians. 

In Somalia, the US carried out a second airstrike against al-Shabaab in the space of one week. In Mali, a man attempted to assassinate the interim president, who came to power after a recent coup. The president survived the attack and the assassin died in police custody. In Tunisia, the president, Kais Saied, appears to be making a major power grab by firing the prime minister and dissolving parliament. 

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Haitians Don’t Want What the Interventionists Are Selling

The Washington Post really, really wants outside intervention in Haiti:

There is no way for Haiti to pull itself out of the current morass without elections that would certify and legitimize a new government and legislature. That requires at least a short-term international intervention.

It is curious that American advocates for intervention are the ones most eager to hold new elections in Haiti, while many of the Haitian civil society activists are actually opposed to both elections and intervention. Former U.S. Ambassador Peter Mulrean picked up on the latter point and wrote earlier this month that new elections now are exactly what Haiti doesn’t need:

The degradation of Haiti’s democracy is now at a critical point, perhaps the point of no return. It is tempting to think that new elections will clarify the situation and restore stability, but experience teaches us just the opposite. What Haiti needs is to take stock of what is broken and fix it. That is what a broad coalition of opposition parties and civil society is calling for.

Marcela Garcia made the point that Haitians don’t want foreign intervention:

Clesca is spot on. There are resounding calls from Haiti’s civil society groups to reject any foreign intervention. It’s long overdue to start listening to what Haitians want. If the country is going to have a chance at building a true democracy, it must be through a Haitian-led path.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

Syrian Insurgents Guilty of ‘Red Line’ 2013 Sarin Chemical Attack, Study Finds

From The Grayzone:

A new open-source study concludes that Syrian insurgents carried out the Ghouta sarin chemical attack in August 2013. The explosive findings add to a growing body of public evidence that undermines US-led efforts to blame the Syrian government, which almost led to US military intervention.

Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were wounded when sarin rockets hit multiple sites in the Syria area of Ghouta on August 21, 2013. The US and its allies publicly accused the Syrian government of responsibility, and President Obama threatened to bomb Syria in purported retaliation. But Obama ultimately pulled back after reaching an agreement with Russia to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.

Since then, a growing body of public information has raised questions about US-led claims of Syrian government guilt. The new open-source study, published by Rootclaim, adds to this evidence.

Continue reading “Syrian Insurgents Guilty of ‘Red Line’ 2013 Sarin Chemical Attack, Study Finds”

‘Maximum Pressure’ Is Malicious and So Are Its Supporters

The Wall Street Journal editors want…wait for it…more pressure on Iran:

Abandoning negotiations would mean a return to Mr. Trump’s “maximum-pressure” sanctions campaign, which Biden officials criticized. But the single-term Trump Administration never had a chance to fully realize the strategy. As deadly protests rock Iran’s southwest, the Biden Administration should be increasing pressure on the regime—not giving it an escape route.

Sanctions advocates always have an excuse for why their pressure campaigns fail to achieve their stated goals. If the targeted state does not make concessions, it is because the sanctions are not strict enough or they have not been given time to work. This has become the fallback argument that Iran hawks use to defend the abject failure of “maximum pressure,” but their argument falls apart under the slightest scrutiny. Iran has been under increasingly severe sanctions, both multilateral and unilateral, for most of the last two decades, and each time Iran came under increased pressure from outside their response was to build up the nuclear program in response. More time and more pressure cannot yield the results Iran hawks claim to want because their goals are unachievable.

Continuing “maximum pressure” would take us down the same well-trodden path of escalation as Iran builds more centrifuges and enriches more uranium at higher levels and the U.S. applies more pointless sanctions. The impasse was broken in Obama’s second term when the U.S. and the other members of the P5+1 were willing to strike the compromise on domestic enrichment that they could have had years earlier. All that the sanctions achieved the first time was to get an agreement that required Iran to reverse the expansion of the nuclear program that had been triggered by the imposition of sanctions. The sanctions campaign was all a colossal waste of time and effort, and many innocent Iranians suffered needlessly in the meantime. The same thing is unfolding now, except that the sanctions are being imposed only by the U.S. and have no legitimacy in the eyes of much of the world.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

Conflicts of Interest: The FBI’s Role in Fabricating ‘Terrorism’ Plots

On COI #140, Kyle and Will return to the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year. New reporting and court filings show that the FBI used no less than 12 undercover agents and confidential informants to infiltrate the plot, most paid substantial sums of money. Some also played key roles in organizing the scheme, covering various expenses and helping to transport other members to group meetings. Several defendants now say they were entrapped.

New anomalies continue to crop up in the story of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition figure said to have been poisoned by Moscow last year. A new OPCW document raises major questions about the timeline between Navalny’s alleged poisoning and the intervention of the German government.

The CIA has tapped a veteran intelligence officer involved in the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden to investigate the so-called “Havana syndrome,” or a wide range of health problems reported by American spies and diplomats stationed abroad. No plausible theory has been put forward to explain the strange symptoms, but the corporate press and some Americans officials have nonetheless cast blame on US adversaries – Russia, China and Cuba among them – suggesting some sort of advanced weapon is behind the ailment.

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War Powers Reform Bill Far Better Than Feared

Senators Murphy, Lee, and Sanders have introduced legislation to address Congressional and Presidential war powers. (See bill text, press release, one pager, video of press conference, op-ed, and Politico article).

In recent months, we’ve seen efforts to repeal some but not other AUMFs (Authorizations for the Use of Military Force), plus talk of creating a new AUMF (why?!). And for years we’ve watched people like Senator Kaine talk about reclaiming Congressional war powers while pushing legislation to eviscerate them. So, I thought I had reason to worry.

I heard about this new legislation before it appeared from people concerned that it was not going to address the power to impose illegal and deadly sanctions on nations around the world. I thought that was a serious concern. And it turns out to have been well justified, as the bill does not say one word about sanctions. But I was wary of focusing on promoting that improvement to a bill that nobody would show me or tell me what else was in it. Not much point in perfecting a catastrophically bad bill, you know?

Now, to be clear, this bill is not the arrival of peace, sanity, and disarmament. It does not recognize that wars are illegal under the UN Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and various other treaties, and prosecutable by the International Criminal Court. It treats perfectly seriously the question of which branch of government should authorize the worst crime there is, in a manner that would never be applied to, say, Congressional Rape Powers or Congressional Child Abuse Powers.

Continue reading “War Powers Reform Bill Far Better Than Feared”