Tag Archives: Mike Pompeo

America’s Kristallnacht? by Robert Gore

If the US government prosecutes Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, it will mark a point of no return.

We’ll never know what “average” Germans thought on November 11, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht. Perhaps a few recognized it for what it was: a turning point, an acceleration of Germany’s descent into hell. America’s Crystal Night looms, and if it occurs, only a few will recognize it for what it is.

The fate of Julian Assange is the fate of one man, but it is also the fate of one of our most important freedoms. There won’t be shattered plate glass from vandalized businesses littering the streets, synagogues smashed, graves unearthed, or people herded onto trains. But his prosecution by the US government would destroy an inestimable value, one enshrined in the First Amendment, for which generations of Americans have fought and died: the right of the people and its press to inform the people and to hold their government to account.

Aside from armed resistance and revolution, the one defense individuals have against governments is intellectual: the concept of individual rights. There is an argument as to whether those rights come from our Creator (Thomas Jefferson) or from our basic nature as humans and the requirements of our survival (Ayn Rand). Despite starting from different premises, both arguments lead to the same conclusion: individuals have inherent, inalienable, inviolable rights, and the only legitimate function of government is to protect those rights.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were explicit attempts to delineate a set of principles that recognized individual rights and tried to restrain government power. Though real-world implementation has fallen short, often far short, they were towering conceptual achievements.

In 1933, the year Hitler assumed power, the government began enacting laws that restricted Jews’ rights to earn a living, gain an education, or work in the civil service. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws stripped German Jews of their citizenship and forbade them from marrying non-Jewish Germans.

Kristallnacht’s hooliganism was encouraged by the German authorities, and none of the perpetrators bore any legal consequences. More than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and deported to concentration camps. The government would not protect Jews from the depredations of thugs and the government itself was a thug. Kristallnacht was a point of no return: Jews no longer had any legally enforceable rights. Soon enough no German would.

In America, there is no one villain or group that one can point to as responsible for the erosion of rights. Begun the day the Constitution was ratified, it’s been a gradual process. We’ve reached the point where only a few of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights still receive any measure of government solicitude.

Property and contract rights are out the window; the government routinely abridges them. You have no right to your own income, or to conduct your legitimate business or trade free from government regulation and interference. Much of the Bill of Rights is either irrelevant now or has been rendered a dead letter. In terms of individual rights, only the Second Amendment’s much infringed right to bear arms, and the First Amendment—the prohibition against the government establishing a religion, free speech, press, and assembly, and the right to petition the government—are still hanging by a thread.

Which is why the fate of Julian Assange takes on such significance. While the government has prosecuted those like Chelsea (formerly Brad) Manning who have stolen government secrets and classified information, it has not prosecuted the press individuals and organizations who have published them. That is WikiLeaks’ business model: it receives, vets, and publishes stolen information, often from governments.

The government has not gone after publishers because it would be a frontal assault on the First Amendment that it would probably lose. Any exception would swallow the general rule of press freedom. Say the Supreme Court recognized an exception: classified information whose publication would constitute an imminent and grave threat to the security of the United States. Who decides what’s an imminent and grave threat? The government would have the power to classify whatever information it pleases under that exception and put those who publish it at risk of prosecution, their only recourse years of costly litigation spent arguing that the information didn’t fit the exception.

Many Trump admirers resist the notion that their man is interested in the acquisition and use of power, but his and members of his administration’s hostility to individual civil liberties belies that resistance. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a gung-ho supporter of the civil-liberties-eviscerating-government-power-expanding War on Drugs and civil asset forfeiture.

In the latter, a government seizes assets it claims were involved with crimes and makes their owners jump through myriad legal hoops—including proving the negative that their assets weren’t involved in a crime—even if the owners themselves were never convicted, or even charged, with a crime. Assets that are not “acquitted”—cars, cash, boats, houses, etc.—are kept and used by the government. President Trump has endorsed civil asset forfeiture, and has extended it outside America’s borders via an executive order (see “By Imperial Decree,” SLL, 1/2/18).

Trump’s Secretary of State and former director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo has fashioned a legal approach the administration might use, in a case against WikiLeaks and Assange, to slither around the First Amendment. In April, still director of the CIA, he delivered a speech in which several passages demanded, but never received, careful parsing from the mainstream media. They are still obsessing over a February Trump tweet in which he declared the US media an “enemy of the people.” This is considered a threat to the First Amendment, but Pompeo’s speech was mostly ignored.

Pompeo called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Most press organizations, and almost all that consistently challenge the state, are non-state. WikiLeaks has published state secrets, undoubtedly considered hostile acts by those states, but how is it an intelligence service? Pompeo is arguing that WikiLeaks cannot be considered part of the press, consequently it’s not protected by the First Amendment.

As for the “abetted by state actors like Russia,” WikiLeaks has consistently denied it received the DNC emails from Russia, and nobody has proven otherwise. The best technical evidence indicates those DNC emails were directly downloaded to a portable storage device, indicating an inside job, and not remotely hacked, by Russians or anyone else.

Pompeo argued that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” This is straight from Orwell: you are free to say what you want, as long as you don’t say anything against the government. He claimed that WikiLeaks “pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice,” and, “they may have believed that, but they are wrong.” Now where would WikiLeaks get such a crazy idea? How about the plain language of the First Amendment?

Finally, Pompeo threatened: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.” Any government “secrets” the press publishes with the full approval of the government probably aren’t going to be terribly revealing. It’s the secrets the government doesn’t want revealed, the ones that are generally “misappropriated,” that reveal the most important secrets, which an informed and free people must know if they are to call their government to account.

From the excerpts quoted above, and the video of the relevant part of speech below, make up your own mind as to who’s perverting the Constitution.

Freedom of the press protects the rights of the press, but more importantly protects the right of all of us to be informed, especially about what was once considered “our” government. It amplifies the freedom of speech. Even a small newspaper reaches more people than someone shouting from a street corner.

If Assange and WikiLeaks are tried and convicted in a US court as “a non-state hostile intelligence service,” the government can slap that label on any person or organization publishing or otherwise disclosing its secrets. The case would probably make its way to the Supreme Court. If the court accepted the Pompeo exception to the First Amendment, freedom of the press and speech would become two more of the Constitution’s dead letters.

Just the prosecution of Assange and WikiLeaks would have a chilling effect. Not that most of the US’s supine mainstream and social media would be chilled. The mainstream media that have spoken out about Assange and WikiLeaks have come down on the side of the government. The social media companies, de facto arms of the government, are shutting down politically incorrect voices. Neither mainstream or social media have anything to lose from the termination of First Amendment freedoms because they don’t say, or allow anyone else to say, anything the powers that be don’t want heard.

Trump is a wild card on WikiLeaks and Assange. WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the DNC emails helped his campaign. He praised it back then, but now appears ready to prosecute. Trump administration officials and Trump himself often say one thing while Trump does another. It is not a given that Assange will be either extradited by the British government or prosecuted in the US.

Few totalitarian regimes take their people’s rights away all at once. It’s done gradually to reduce dissent, until that Kristallnacht moment where it’s impossible to evade the reality: there are no rights left. If the Trump administration prosecutes Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, that sinking feeling in your stomach will be the realization that the last remnant of your rights are gone, that the government and Trump are your enemies.

If Assange and WikiLeaks are prosecuted, who will dare tell the truth about the government? Trump will have destroyed one of the last vestiges of individual rights—and the freedom that goes with it—that once made America great.

 

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Will Next Steps on Iran Point towards a New ‘Big Three’ or World War III? by James George Jatras

Is the Trump administration and Iran going to be a replay of Trump and North Korea, or is it going to be a replay of Bush and Iraq in 2003? Stay tuned. From James George Jatras at strategic-culture.org:

On July 22 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a bizarre speech on Iran. Delivered from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and ostensibly addressed to the Iranian-American community, the speech’s staging clearly sought to evoke the fall of communism, casting the Ayatollahs in the role of Leonid Brezhnev and company.

Iranian “regime change” is not the publicly stated goal of the Trump Administration’s policy. But it is hard to see how US demands on Tehran don’t amount to exactly that, with Pompeo comparing the Iranian “regime” (a term used dozens of times to imply illegitimacy) to a “mafia.” He asserted that Iran’s behavior is “at root in the revolutionary nature of the regime itself.” What can change its “root” or “nature” without ceasing to be itself?

Pompeo demanded not just a total change in policy from Tehran but a different mode of governance amounting to Iran’s ceasing to be an independent regional power. The Reagan venue’s analogy to the collapse of communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe echoed in the Secretary’s heavy emphasis on “a new 24/7 Farsi-language TV channel” spanning “not only television, but radio, digital, and social media format, so that the ordinary Iranians inside of Iran and around the globe can know that America stands with them.”

The US position on Iran is that it is solely a question of removing a layer of malign governance, after which democracy, tolerance, peace, and general niceness will spontaneously break forth, and justice will roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream. Just like happened in Iraq after 2003. Just like in Libya.

Never mind that Iran isn’t North America or Europe. Never mind that American and European ideas of social and personal liberty would be anathema to an unknown but significant percentage of Iran’s population. Never mind that the replacement for the Ayatollahs envisioned by many Administration big shots, the cultish People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Mojahedin-e Khalq, MEK), may not be particularly democratic or popular with Iranians. Don’t bother us with details – the neo-Bolshevik myth of a spontaneous uprising by the oppressed masses (with a little help from outside, like the Kaiser’s generals were kind enough to provide Lenin) is alive and well in Washington.

To continue reading: Will Next Steps on Iran Point towards a New ‘Big Three’ or World War III?

 

Round the Bend, by James Howard Kunstler

American politics grows increasingly daft. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The political insanity roiling the USA only gets worse, with no end in sight. On Wednesday, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass), made the astonishing statement on CNN that “the American people wanted a confrontation, not a conversation,” between Presidents Trump and Putin in Helsinki.

Really? We wanted a mud wrestling bout and all we got was some lousy chit-chat? Next time, maybe Mr. Trump will bring a fungo bat to the room and “tune up” his counterpart — a popular negotiating technique from the rough-and-tumble New York City construction scene back in Mr. Trump’s halcyon days. Some people you just can’t reason with, especially the hell-spawned man-beast who personally directed Russian “meddling” and “interference” in our election and stole certain victory from president-designee Hillary. (I know this because The New York Times and The Washington Post said so.)

Another astonishment: in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would not recognize Crimea as part of Russia and would demand the return of the region to Ukraine. Not to put too fine a point on it, Mr. Pompeo is pissing up a rope on that one. Russia will not give up its warm-water naval bases on the Black Sea anymore than the US will return its San Diego naval installation to Mexico, and Mr. Pompeo knows it. So do the posturing idiots on the senate committee, who apparently forgot that our own government officials fomented the 2014 Ukrainian coup that prompted Russia to annex Crimea and its military assets in the first place.

How many of you feel a gnawing disgust and contempt for both sides of the US political spectrum? The news, day and night, reveals a nation unable to think, unable to discern reality from fantasy, avid to dissemble and lie about absolutely everything, eager to support any racketeering operation designed to fleece its own citizens, and utterly ignoring the genuine problems that can drive us into a new dark age.

On balance, and just for now, I’m more disturbed by the side represented by the Democratic Party, aka the “progressives” or “the Resistance,” because they are responsible for politicizing the FBI before, during, and after the 2016 election and that was a dastardly act of institutional debauchery in an agency with the power to destroy the lives and careers of American citizens. The product of that corruption is a dangerous manufactured hysteria inciting hostility and aggression against another nation that could lead to a war that humanity will not recover from.

To continue reading: Round the Bend

Pompeo’s Ridiculous Crocodile Tears for Iranian People, by Muhammad Sahimi

Nobody in Iran thinks Trump, Pompeo, Bolton and company gives two shits about the people of Iran. From Muhammad Sahimi at antiwar.com:

On Sunday 22 July 2018 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke before what the State Department claimed to be representatives of the Iranian-American community in the United States. Attendance was by invitation only, and the questions had to be submitted in advance, so that they could be vetted. Those who attended were mostly supporters of “regime change” in Iran by imperialist military intervention: old monarchists who still dream of going back to power in Iran; supporters of the MEK, the opposition organization that is universally hated by the Iranian people due to the many treasons committed by it, an organization that up until 2011 was listed by the State Department as a terrorist group, and rich Iranian Zionists who support Israel fervently. Interestingly, they mostly wanted to remain anonymous also.

Based on what the author read in social networks, a very large majority of Iranians living in the United States were opposed to even attending the speech, let alone agreeing with what Pompeo had to say. Pompeo’s speech was supposedly intended to express the Trump administration’s support for the Iranian people, and that is where the absurdity of the administration’s policy toward Iran – if one can call it as such – and the speech itself becomes evident immediately.

To see this, consider the following:

Pompeo has worked closely with some of the most virulent Islamophobes in the United States. He and national security adviser John Bolton made Islamophobia mainstream, yet Pompeo sheds crocodile tears for 83 million Iranians, 98 percent of whom are Muslim.

Pompeo and Bolton have called for bombing Iran, and yet Pompeo’s is under the illusion that the Iranian people believe that he is their friend.

Pompeo and the Trump administration claim to be friends of Iranian people, yet Iranian citizens have been banned from coming to the United States. In his speech Pompeo uttered not a single word about the ban.

Pompeo [and Bolton] were ardent foes of the nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The administration exited JCPOA illegally, and is trying to re-impose tough economic sanctions on Iran. Not only JCPOA benefited the Iranian people economically, it also contributed to lessening tension in the Middle East and elsewhere. It is supported almost unanimously by the Iranian people both in Iran and in the diaspora, yet Pompeo “laments” the economic plights of the Iranian people that will be even worse after the re-imposition of the sanctions.

To continue reading: Pompeo’s Ridiculous Crocodile Tears for Iranian People

State Dept Insider: “Eerily Familiar Drumbeat Of War Intensifying” Ahead Of Pompeo’s Iran Speech, by Reza Marashi

Many Iranians don’t like their government, but they like the idea of the US “changing” their government even less. From Razi Marashi at zerohedge.com:

Reza Marashi served in the Office of Iranian Affairs at the U.S. State Department and is currently research director at the National Iranian American Council. He is frequently consulted by Western governments on Iran-related matters. He took to Twitter on Friday to sound the alarm ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming address called “Supporting Iranian Voices,” set to be held Sunday at the Reagan Library, warning as a former longtime State Department insider that this is not about “rights” or “democracy promotion” but that the wheels of the Washington regime change machine are turning.

And now I shall go on one of my famous rants. This time about Mike Pompeo’s upcoming speech on “Supporting Iranian Voices.” This is going to be long. Find your favorite comfy chair. Put on some cozy attire – sweatpants, perhaps. Pop some popcorn. Pour yourself an adult beverage.

To date, out of respect for my friends still fighting the good fight at the State Department, I have kept silent about this heavy, wet, overflowing diaper of everything that should not be. But I keep getting asked about it, so I will oblige once and then let the clown show carry on.

An eerily familiar drumbeat of war is intensifying across DC, as the continues its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. The ghosts of America’s neoconservative past are dusting off their Iraq playbook to make the case for war with Iran.

Their formula is simple but effective: Portray the Iranian government as an existential threat, insist that a chain of catastrophic events will result from inaction, and minimize costs and risks of the war that is necessary to facilitate their regime change efforts.

If one looks back, however, neocons weren’t alone in their push for war with Iraq. A crucial aspect of selling the war to the U.S. public was a modicum of support within the Iraqi-American community.

Iraqi exiles living abroad, such as Ahmed Chalabi and Kanan Makiya, as well as supposed whistle-blowers turned known fabricators like the infamous “Curveball,” led a contingent of vocal Iraqis who pushed for steadily more aggressive actions to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Their promise that the invasion would be a cakewalk and that U.S. soldiers would be greeted with flowers and candy didn’t quite pan out. Now, the fruits of their labor are clear for all to see — a broken country, devastated by war, with no discernible end in sight.

To continue reading: State Dept Insider: “Eerily Familiar Drumbeat Of War Intensifying” Ahead Of Pompeo’s Iran Speech

The Murder of Julian Assange, by Kurt Nimmo

The US government wants to prosecute Julian Assange and lock him away for life. From Kurt Nimmo at kurtnimmo.blog:

It was a fool’s errand.

On the day Donald Trump was elected his supporters asked him to pardon the founder and frontman of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. They flooded social media demanding Assange be allowed to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London without arrest and extradition to the United States. 

Stone silence from Trump and his administration. 

A few months before the election, WikiLeaks released a searchable archive of over 30,000 emails and attachments taken from Hillary Clinton’s not-so private email server. 

Trump held no aversion to exploiting the emails. He called them the Crooked Hillary emails and said they endangered the national security of the United States. 

Democrats called foul, said Assange had colluded with Putin and the Russians. 

In April, they filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Russian government, the Trump campaign, and WikiLeaks. They argue there was a widespread conspiracy to swing the 2016 election.

They have zero evidence of this. Evidence is no longer required. Accusations alone now serve to take down leaders and destroy careers. 

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are no longer of use to Donald Trump. 

He dished out pardons to ex-Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and neocon leaker Scooter Libby. Trump mulled other pardons, including a posthumous one for Muhammad Ali to wipe out his draft dodging conviction. It was reported in June Trump insiders are pushing to pardon the junk bond king Michael Milken and reverse his conviction on securities fraud. The Milken pardon is being pushed by Goldman Sachs alumnus and current Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. 

Meanwhile, Julian Assange is left to twist in the wind. 

Both Trump’s attorney general and his former CIA director, now secretary of state Mike Pompeo want Assange extradited to the United States where he will face trial and possible execution for espionage. 

AG Jeff Sessions said the arrest and prosecution of Assange is a priority for the United States government, while Pompeo denounced him as a “hostile intelligence service,” never mind he had no problem using the Clinton emails to accuse the DNC of sabotaging the Bernie Sanders campaign. 

To continue reading: The Murder of Julian Assange

Is US Bellicosity Backfiring? by Patrick J. Buchanan

Does Trump want US bellicosity to backfire? From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

U.S. threats to crush Iran and North Korea may yet work, but as of now neither Tehran nor Pyongyang appears to be intimidated.

Repeated references by NSC adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence to the “Libya model” for denuclearization of North Korea just helped sink the Singapore summit of President Trump and Kim Jong Un. To North Korea, the Libya model means the overthrow and murder of Libya strongman Col. Gadhafi, after he surrendered his WMD.

Wednesday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui exploded at Pence’s invocation of Libya: “Vice-President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya … I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks.

“Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.”

Yesterday, Trump canceled the Singapore summit.

Earlier this week at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out our Plan B for Iran in a speech that called to mind Prussian Field Marshal Karl Von Moltke.

Among Pompeo’s demands: Iran must end all support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Hamas in Gaza, withdraw all forces under Iranian command in Syria, and disarm its Shiite militia in Iraq.

Iran must confess its past lies about a nuclear weapons program, and account publicly for all such activity back into the 20th century.

Iran must halt all enrichment of uranium, swear never to produce plutonium, shut down its heavy water reactor, open up its military bases to inspection to prove it has no secret nuclear program, and stop testing ballistic missiles.

And unless Iran submits, she will be strangled economically.

What Pompeo delivered was an ultimatum: Iran is to abandon all its allies in all Mideast wars, or face ruin and possible war with the USA.

It is hard to recall a secretary of state using the language Pompeo deployed: “We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them. Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

But how can Iran “dominate” a Mideast that is home to Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt, as well as U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and Syria?

To continue reading: Is US Bellicosity Backfiring?