American Sniper and Twisting People's Impressionable Minds
By Dennis Loo (2/22/15)
Author's note: Tonight is the Academy Awards and the film American Sniper is up for possible Oscars. It's remarkable that such a stupid film that celebrates an American soldier for killing scores of people in Iraq and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, could be so lauded. But then again, the fundamental lie that this film is based upon - that the US had and has a right to invade, occupy, and kill the people of Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 - mirrors the lie that was told to the nation by the Bush Regime and the mass media.
So even though that lie has been made public since the invasion (a lie that some of us tried to warn people about before the invasion, but mass media refused to give that information to the country), many people still can't think straight enough to realize that American Sniper is about a killer who deserves condemnation, not praise. All you would have to do to wake some of these impressionable people up, however, is to ask them a simple question: What the hell is the US doing in Iraq in the first place? How would you feel as an American if Iraq's army had invaded us fourteen years ago, after claiming that because we had weapons of mass destruction that we were a threat to them and that they had to invade and kill over a million Americans to prevent the "greater evil?" How would you feel if an Iraqi Sniper killed scores of Americans while occupying America who openly wished he had killed more American "savages"? Would you think this guy's story deserved an Academy Award? Or would you want to call him the Iraqi Psychopath? And what would you be doing towards the Iraqi invaders if they were the occupying and marauding foreign army in our streets?
In dishonor of tonight's expected touting of this war crime of a movie, I am reprinting an analysis that I posted on January 8, 2010 after the Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab unsuccessfully tried to blow up his boxer briefs on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Xmas Day, 2010. It brings up the truth about this big lie called the "war on terror" and how it actually creates anti-state terrorists such as ISIL.
(Also posted here at Open Salon)
By Dennis Loo (1/8/10)
We have, on the one hand, the Nigerian student, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, with briefs set to explode on his flight to Detroit.
We have, on the other hand, President Obama briefing the nation yesterday, revealing the bombshell that, despite an alphabet soup of agencies, staffed by tens of thousands, costing tens of billions of dollars, daily downloading four times more data than contained in the Library of Congress, a suspected terrorism list of close to half a million names, to which they add scores daily, and tight security measures at airports, they still can’t connect the dots and stop someone whose father had urgently warned US authorities in November that he’d told his family that he had joined extremists, and that they should forget about him because they’re not going to see him again.
This was on top of NSA intercepting communications from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula back in August that a Nigerian was going to carry out an attack on the US.
The good news is that the system sort of worked: they were planning to interview Umar after his flight landed.
A funny thing happened, though, on the way to Detroit.
So what’s wrong here?
Let’s begin with Obama’s speech. We can see in it what makes Obama different from Bush, and also what makes him the same. Unlike Bush, Obama accepted responsibility, something that Bush would never do. I can imagine Bush saying to the nation: “No one anticipated that his briefs might be breached.”
Like Bush, however, Obama can’t or won’t deal with the fundamental problems here and squares the error (as Coleen Rowley put it at Consortium News) by creating more bureaucracy. We’re dealing here with a situation in which more is less: more agencies, tasked with doing more, when prior to 9/11 they already had in place the institutional means to co-ordinate, synthesize, and act upon intelligence and threats. As Ray McGovern points out at Consortium News, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, President Truman created the institutional means to avoid surprise attacks again: producing the CENTRAL intelligence agency. The CIA was supposed to do precisely what the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) and DNI (Director of National Intelligence, head of NCTC) Homeland Threat Task Force are now supposed to be doing, along with the CIA still doing this abroad.
Except that somehow they didn’t and aren’t.
Obama’s report on this failure sounds to me like a student coming to my office and saying that he didn’t complete his final paper in my class, but that he had all of the information stored on his computer – in several different folders. He just needed to put the pieces together so that it became a coherent paper.
“F.” You still get an “F.”
What does the Obama administration’s assessment of the failures here say?
We had the information but we didn’t connect the dots. We are going to fix this by charging some people with the responsibility to connect the dots (Note to readers: already previously done a few times over) and we’re going to hold people accountable for doing so.
“[A] process is needed to track terrorist threat reporting to ensure that departments and agencies are held accountable for running down all leads associated with high visibility and high priority plotting efforts, in particular against the U.S. Homeland.” (p. 4)
The Summary notes that by deliberate design, several different agencies were tasked with overlapping and redundant responsibilities for gathering, synthesizing, and acting upon intelligence. “Though the consumer base and operational capabilities of CIA and NCTC are somewhat different, the intentional redundancy in the system should have added an additional layer of protection in uncovering the plot…” (p. 3)
(The Summary notes that several agencies did in fact have the information about Abdulmutallab and about the plans of AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But despite this redundancy, none of them put this obvious information together and acted on it.)
Accountability. I hear this a lot where I work. The neoliberal solution to everything: create people who are going to hold other people accountable and assess their work. More layers.
Oh, and they’re going to tighten up the No Fly Lists and more full-body screening devices that Michael Chertoff, former head of DHS, makes money from.
In a related note, I was watching some of the College Football championship game last night at the Rose Bowl: number one ranked Alabama v. number two ranked Texas. In the waning minutes of the game, when Texas had the ball and a chance to pull out an upset win, in the play that decides the game, a ‘Bama defensive player rushes in on the Texas quarterback’s blindside, unmolested, knocks him down and forces a fumble, recovered by ‘Bama near Texas’ goal line. ‘Bama then scores again, putting the game out of reach. Game over.
There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. If you assume just 1% of them are angry enough and militant enough to become suicide attackers against the US, that’s 12 million. Imagine this in terms of a football game. Even if we committed the absurd number of one million, two hundred thousand people devoted to foiling the 12 million potential adversaries, that still leaves close to 11 million unblocked players rushing in to sack the quarterback. And more than that, all the other side needs to do to win, is succeed a few times, or even once.
You don’t play football against a team that outnumbers you by close to 11 million.
The game itself is a disaster. You don’t play this game anymore unless a) you are crazy or b) you want to lose.
You see, there’s another game in play here, but the nature of that game is being kept a secret. In that game, the US government gains ground when it loses in the football game. This Nigerian with the explosive briefs becomes the rationale for tightening up social control and repressive measures against Americans and non-Americans. That includes not only unfettered surveillance but also indefinite detention, torture, and ongoing, absurdly expensive and unjust wars.
The way to end this madness is to stop doing what is inflaming hatred of the US. It means ending the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the drone attacks on Pakistan, the support of Israel against Palestinians, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and the obscenity of Gitmo and Bagram.
You can’t fight malaria by trying to kill all of the mosquitoes. You fight malaria by draining the water bodies that mosquitoes are spawning in. That strategy works. You create the conditions that take away the grounds by which Al-Qaeda continues to recruit people for and the oceans of sympathy for those fighting against imperialism.
Some readers might think this is impossible to do. The alternative to doing this “impossible,” however, is to continue doing the very things that exacerbate and feed the monster of terror. Fighting terror with terror. There’s no end to that strategy and it will only get worse and only more and more expensive, not only financially but also in the costs to the people’s welfare and lives.
The resolution of this crisis isn’t to be obtained within the existing frameworks being offered to the people. The stakes are exceedingly high. The scope of these wars and policies mean that no one is able to escape from it. We can either cheer for and side with the Empire, or we can fight for justice. If you side with the Empire, you’re still possibly a target and you’re siding with a team that has much fancier uniforms than the other side, but is outnumbered by tens of millions. And you’re siding with a team that is not trying to win the game you think you’re playing.
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[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
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