Traitors and Torturers

A traitor is defined as “a person who betrays someone or something, such as a friend, cause, or principle” and many sanctimonious Americans have accused US Army Private Bradley Manning and the National Security Agency’s Edward Snowden of betraying their country which patently they have not.Their offence was to make their fellow citizens aware that some government agencies have been guilty of monstrously illegal conduct.

Manning embarrassed a few pompous idiots and exposed some evil people, and Snowden revealed startling criminality on the part of Washington’s out-of-control surveillance cliques; but another point of interest in the Manning Papers published by WikiLeaks is that the US State Department has lots of people who are highly intelligent.

I’ve read scores of the leaked despatches and am pleased that in general their analyses, acuity and expression are as impressive as they were when I had the privilege of reading such communications as a matter of duty (and equal enjoyment) many years ago. There are still some pretty good folks in the US foreign service, thank goodness – although they have to keep their sensible heads down lest they be victimised by spiteful morons.

Talking of whom . . . As I began to write this piece there was news that the president of the United States had cancelled a meeting with his Russian counterpart because Russia has given sanctuary to Snowden to save him from treatment in the US that would have met with the approval of the Soviet Union’s Gulag or the gleeful torturers of the American army’s Abu Ghraib prison who practised what are wonderfully called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’.

This is one of these irregular grammatical constructions, in that we conduct enhanced interrogation ; you tie people’s hands behind their backs and hang them naked from the dripping walls of festering cells ; they have died from heart failure brought on by eating too many prison pizzas.

The American officer who suffered most from the Abu Ghraib affair was, inevitably, the head of the Board of Inquiry, Major General Antonio Taguba, an honourable man who was ordered into retirement because he refused to conceal the revolting details of torture that had been approved at the highest level of the US government. He was loyal to his country but, as he said after he was dismissed, “I’d been in the army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the mafia.”

And this is parallel to the fashion in which the US administration has treated Bradley Manning and is determined to deal with Edward Snowden. Neither of them imagined they were in a squalid mafia that disdains decency and wants to concentrate on persecuting them rather than righting the wrongs they disclosed.

Before President Putin helped Obama look infantile, there was a fascinating revelation about American ‘justice’ as now interpreted. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, wrote to his opposite number in Moscow saying that if the Russians handed over Snowden to the US authorities he would not be tortured. I don’t think I am alone in finding it barely credible that the senior official in America’s justice system thinks it essential to say that if people are delivered up to him they will not be subjected to physical and mental torment. Should that not be taken for granted? Obviously not.

His words were “Mr Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.” Is it, indeed?So this would explain why for a year Private Manning was subjected to sleep deprivation, kept naked and shackled in solitary confinement in a tiny wire cage, and menaced by enormous (and disgustingly fat) guards, who treated him with bullying contempt.

It is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed by the US in 1948, that “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” Fat chance of that in Obamaland.

In considering Manning’s appalling treatment, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur assessed that “imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence.” His treatment was vindictively cruel – it was in fact torture – which is why it is so important to keep Snowden out of the talons of what is described as ‘justice’ in the New America.

And this brings us to injustice and a real traitor. The injustice is the failure of US authorities to pursue an authentic American traitor, in this case a high-profile person named James Clapper who is director of National Intelligence. In March this year he was asked under oath in Congress by Senator Ron Wyden, “if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question, does the National Security Agency collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” The Clapper answer was: “No, Sir.” He was again asked, “It does not?” and replied “Not wittingly.”

The only true word he uttered was “Sir”. Because he told a downright deliberate lie. But we wouldn’t have known that Clapper had committed perjury had it not been for Edward Snowden – which is the main reason the spiteful apparatchiks of Washington are so determined to wreak vengeance on him.

The man Clapper has betrayed both cause and principle: the cause of national honour and the principle of truth. He is a traitor to himself and to his nation. He later admitted that his words were “the least untruthful” he could have uttered, but the administration in Washington is content to have a liar continuing to direct the country’s entire intelligence system, while determined to hunt down the man who exposed him. A man who lies to the US is regarded as a respected member of the establishment while those who tell Americans the truth are hounded and reviled. Maybe perjury pays?

By: Brian Cloughley, a South Asian affairs analyst. Website:

Call Center Conversations

Samsung Electronics
Caller: ‘Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?’
Operator: ‘I’m sorry, sir, I don’t understand who you are talking about.’
Caller: ‘On page 1, section 5, of the user guide it clearly states that I need to unplug the fax machine from the AC wall socket and telephone Jack before cleaning. Now, can you give me the number for Jack?’
Operator: ‘I think it means the telephone plug on the wall.’

Caller (enquiring about legal requirements while traveling in Europe )
‘If I register my car in France , and then take it to England, do I have to change the steering wheel to the other side of the car?’

Tech Support: ‘I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop.’
Customer: ‘OK..’
Tech Support: ‘Did you get a pop-up menu?’
Customer: ‘No.’
Tech Support: ‘OK. Right-Click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?’
Customer: ‘No.’
Tech Support: ‘OK, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?’
Customer: ‘Sure. You told me to write ‘click’ and I wrote ‘click’.’

Tech Support: ‘OK. At the bottom left hand side of your screen, can you see the ‘OK’ button displayed?’
Customer: ‘Wow! How can you see my screen from there?’

Caller: ‘I deleted a file from my PC last week and I just realized that I need it.
So, if I turn my system clock back two weeks will I get my file back again?’

Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee.

Operator: ‘Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?’
Caller: ‘Yes, well, I’m having trouble with WordPerfect .’
Operator: ‘What sort of trouble?’
Caller: ‘Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.’
Operator: ‘Went away?’
Caller: ‘They disappeared’
Operator: ‘Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?’
Caller: ‘Nothing.’
Operator: ‘Nothing??’
Caller: ‘It’s blank; it won’t accept anything when I type.’
Operator: ‘Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?’
Caller: ‘How do I tell?’
Operator: ‘Can you see the ‘C: prompt’ on the screen?’
Caller: ‘What’s a sea-prompt?’
Operator: ‘Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?’
Caller: ‘There isn’t any cursor; I told you, it won’t accept anything I type..’
Operator: ‘Does your monitor have a power indicator?’
Caller: ‘What’s a monitor?’
Operator: ‘It’s the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV.
Does it have a little light that tells you when it’s on?’
Caller: ‘I don’t know.’
Operator: ‘Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where
the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??’
Caller: ‘Yes, I think so.’
Opera tor: ‘Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it’s
plugged into the wall..
Caller: ‘Yes, it is.’
Operator: ‘When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that
there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one? ‘
Caller: ‘No.’
Operator: ‘Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and
find the other cable.’
Caller: ‘Okay, here it is.’
Operator: ‘Follow it for me, and tell me if it’s plugged securely into
the back of your computer..’
Caller: ‘I can’t reach.’
Operator: ‘OK. Well, can you see if it is?’
Caller: ‘No…’
Operator: ‘Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?’
Caller: ‘Well, it’s not because I don’t have the right angle — it’s because it’s dark.’
Operator: ‘Dark?’
Caller: ‘Yes – the office light is off, and the only light I have is
coming in from the window.’
Operator: ‘Well, turn on the office light then.’
Caller: ‘I can’t..’
Operator: ‘No? Why not?’
Caller: ‘Because there’s a power failure.’
Operator: ‘A power …. A power failure? Aha. Okay, we’ve got it
licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and
packing stuff that your computer came in?’
Caller: ‘Well, yes, I keep them in the closet..’
Operator: ‘Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it
up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to
the store you bought it from.’
Caller: ‘Really? Is it that bad?’
Operator: ‘Yes, I’m afraid it is.’
Caller: ‘Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?’
Operator: ‘Tell them you’re too damned stupid to own a computer!’

March to Disaster

Today, the nations in ruins and mourning are Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and, to a lesser degree, Libya, all dismembered or broken up by the power of the mighty American Raj.

Syria is clearly the next target of the American imperial bulldozer. After two years of brutal rebellion armed and financed by the US and its regional allies, Syria now faces devastation.

A campaign of air-strikes and missiles will crush Syria’s air force, tanks, artillery and communications. Israel stands ready to sweep up the ruins of Syria.

Pure black comedy. Shamelessly stealing Bush administration propaganda, the Obama White House has been actually warning that Syria’s chemical weapons (most of their raw materials came from Europe) pose a dire threat to the United States. Syria acquired chemical weapons to counter Israel’s large arsenal of nuclear weapons, originally supplied by France.

Failure to act will be another Munich appeasement, warns Obama. But the US Congress could not take action because it was still on summer vacation.

President Obama even allowed there was no urgency for action. The important thing he declared was that America’s “credibility” was at stake. Politicians invoke credibility as a excuse after they have made a huge blunder –notably Obama’s foolish “red lines” in Syria that boxed the president into a corner of his own making.

What we are seeing is the latest, 21st century version of the new era of colonialism and imperialism, with a touch of Crusader zeal thrown in.

Today, the favored euphemism is humanitarian intervention, but the song remains the same. Syria is not about poison gas or human rights: it’s about a proxy war against Iran, the only nation now challenging total US and Israel military domination of the Mideast.

For France, it’s about reasserting its former colonial rule in Syria and Lebanon

In 1857, a Chinese baker in Hong Kong tried to poison the British trade superintendent. Britain’s parliament was summoned to vote on retaliation against China. The vote did not pass. But soon after a new parliament with more conservatives voted for war.

France rushed to join Britain, citing the killing of a French missionary. Russia and the US joined. The Second Opium War had begun. China was quickly defeated by the western powers and forced to open it ports to their commerce and begin consuming highly addictive opium grown in the British Indian Raj.

Look at current events in Syria in this historical light rather than all the indignation over chemical weapons in Syria. Besides, given that the weird Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, managed to produce home-made Sarin ( I just barley missed its attack on Tokyo’s subway), how do we know who really made Syria’s gas?

Far more important, the US Congress has become seriously corrupted by special interest money – and that’s putting it gently. How else did all the Wall Street bankers escape punishment for their egregious financial frauds and theft?

Now, other wealthy special interest in America are beating the war drums and pulling the strings of their legislators. Israel is pushing the US hard to destroy its old foe Syria – which would remove the last Arab state capable of offering even modest military resistance to Israel.

So it seems likely the upcoming Congressional vote may approve a “limited” war. But remember “mission creep” from Vietnam days? Previous estimates of a so-called limited air campaign against Iran called for over 3,200 targets to be hit repeatedly.

And who will rule Syria after President Bashar Assad is deposed or killed? Today’s Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan hardly offer a promising example of Washington-guided democracy.

Washington is still trying to figure out what happened to Herzegovina – it’s not ready for Syria’s maddening complexity. In fact, I’d wager that most members of the US Congress could not find Syria on a map. Ordinary taxpaying Americans, polls show, are totally against yet another jolly little war that has no sense to it, no exit strategy, and that offers only mayhem and confusion.

But the US chariot of the Juggernaut just keeps rolling along.

By: Eric Margolis