Sunday, March 1, 2009

Common Man News 3/2009

News for the common man because the elite already know!



Obama declares war on auto workers

Obama expands government's role in auto industry

Obama's Attack on the Middle Class

World Depression and Decline of US Empire

A Scary Corporate Coup Is Under Way

A Brave Man Who Stood Alone

Gaza War Crimes Investigation: Attacks on Medics


European powers rebuff US, British proposals for economic stimulus

Obama escalates war in Central Asia

April 3-4: All out to Wall Street

Trillions for Wall St., poverty for workers

More Senior Citizens Forced to Declare Bankruptcy

How Insurers Blacklist Millions With Common Ailments

Taxing Main Street to Make Wall Street Richer

When the Solution to the Financial Crisis becomes the Cause

6 Million Families Face Losing Their Homes in the Next Three Years

The "Dollar Glut" is What Finances America's Global Military Build-up

Bank Executives May Keep TARP Funds After Meeting With Obama

Army vet billed $3,000 for war wounds

Democrats Duck Bush Torture Probe

Spanish judge accuses six top Bush officials of torture


Obama holds "very pleasant" meeting with top US bankers

Obama announces escalation of war in Afghanistan, Pakistan

Unemployment hits double digits in seven states

Jobless Rate Exceeds 10% in Three More U.S. States

New US Law To Allow Searching Of PC's, Laptops, And Media Devices

States Rebellion Pending

Stocks Will Drop; Banks Will Go Belly Up - Roubini

The Free Market Financial Style, How the Scam Works

That's No Angry Mob, It's a Movement

Total Meltdown and Civil Unrest

U.S. Expected to Give More Aid to Automakers

Freedom Tower To Be Renamed One World Trade Center


Washington escalates “drug war” intervention in Mexico

Insurance Industry is Simply a Parasite Feeding on the US Health System

Courage To Resist

More US troops for Afghan war

Obama says automakers need 'drastic changes'

Commercial real estate loan defaults skyrocket

US backing for world currency stuns markets

States consider drug tests for welfare recipients

Modern-day Hoovervilles

Schwarzenegger Opens California Fairgrounds to Homeless Camp

US deploys warships as North Korea prepares to launch missile

Bush Law Continued

Enduring Freedom

Despite Obama's Vow, Combat Brigades Will Stay in Iraq


Constitutional Scholar Calls Bush Torture Memos Treason

Across America, a bumper crop of food gardens

US jobless claims hit 652,000 in week

Obama town hall meetings in Cali.: No answers for joblessness, austerity

US government department routinely ignores labor law violations

New York Times publishes “persecuted” AIG executive’s resignation letter

The class agenda of the Obama administration

No we are not "All In This Together" by Cindy Sheehan

Is the Bailout Plan Breeding a Greater Crisis?

How some military rabbis are trying to radicalize Israeli soldiers

Geithner 'open' to China proposal

More companies cut or end 401(k) plan matches

IBM to shift 'large number' of US jobs to India

Border plants to be poisoned to reveal smugglers

Cities Deal With a Surge in Shanty Towns

Israel Accused of Indiscriminate Phosphorus Use in Gaza

Is the E-Voting Honeymoon Over?

Hope in the Mountains


Guardsmen train for urban conflict

Chicago may replace some police patrols with private secrurity contractors

Pentagon seeks clarity on China military build-up

IMF director warns of war

Obama’s “carrot and stick” approach to Iran

Democrats prepare to ditch AIG bonus bill

Billions for Wall Street, budget cuts for working people

Diebold Admits Voting System Flaws

Commander confirms Netanyahu war plans

Narco wars loom over Clinton agenda in Mexico


Bend Over and Say, "Uncle Sam"

Welcome to Pipelineistan

Obama’s auto task force: a collection of Wall Street investors and asset strippers

US prepares new escalation of Afghanistan intervention

Real estate investors: 'Tsunami' still ahead

Existing Home Sales Fall 4.6%

America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

AIG Shows Why We Need the Employee Free Choice Act

Bay City, Michigan: Fifteen-year-old dies after Taser shooting


More than 10,000 march on Pentagon, leading war profiteers

US Will Appoint Afghan "Prime Minister" to Bypass Hamid Karzai

1999 Kosovo "Freedom Fighters" Financed by Organize Crime

As Credit Markets Froze, Banks Loaned Millions to Insiders

A.I.G. Bonuses: Class War in the Media

Bailed-out JP Morgan moves forward with $120 million in jet buys

Obama administration plan for “toxic assets”: A windfall for Wall Street

Wall Street hysterics over the AIG bonus bill

Will Congress Wipe Out Home Gardens, Growers Markets?

White House officials: Taxing AIG bonuses may be 'dangerous way to go'

Serb Death squad leader 'was top CIA agent'

Washington Post Elitists Feel for Wall St. Brethren

Wall Street's Economic Crimes Against Humanity

Treasury Presses Ahead With Plan for Toxic Assets


Working families struggle to make ends meet

Obama maneuvers to protect Wall Street bonuses

Launching Lifeboats Before the Ship Sinks

A Forgotten Humanitarian Disaster

U.S. unemployment rate likely around 9.5 percent: think tank

Fed to Buy Treasurys is Not a Good Sign

Rapid Declines in Manufacturing Spread Global Anxiety

Our Shame by Cindy Sheehan

We're on The Verge Of A Major Crisis : Ron Paul

Two Options To Save US Economy: Declare Default or Trigger War

Creeping Privacy Threat

IDF In Gaza: Killing Civilians, Vandalism, and Lax Rules of Engagement

Researchers find ways to sniff keystrokes from thin air

The Big Takeover

The Iraq War's Six Years of Mayhem

CIA Has 3,000 Docs on Torture Tapes

Rethink Afghanistan

Fearing unionization Wal-Mart Giving Workers $933M In Bonuses

USPS to close 2 New England district offices

Georgia's FirstCity Bank becomes 18th failure of 2009

Regulators seize two large corporate credit unions

U.S. Injecting Billions Into Foreign Central Banks

A.I.G. Sues U.S. for Return of $306 Million in Tax Payments

U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar

Jobless rate at 11.2% for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan

Israel arrests Hamas negotiators

Keith Olbermann to bailed-out banks: Enough!

Reagan: The Great American Socialist

France: Millions strike and march against austerity

French Workers Return to Streets in Protest

Republicans Vow to Slow Bonus Bill

Is Congress Finally Ready To Seriously Tax the Rich?

The Rich Countries' Faltering "United Front"


The Threat and Danger of One World Currency

Approaching a Depression? New Twist in the Old Saga of Under-Counting the Unemployed

Which way forward for anti-war forces?

"Getting Tough" with Predator Financial Institutions

El Salvador's Left Wins Historic Election

Sarkozy Under Pressure as 'Millions' Take to Streets

Who Owns Colorado's Rainwater?

Soldiers' Accounts of Gaza Killings Raise Furor in Israel

Israel's dirty secrets in Gaza

Ex-Bush admin official: Many at Gitmo are innocent

How the Fed Failed to Tell Obama About the Bonuses

What's another $1 trillion? Fed moves to boost lending

Gulf War Illnesses Debate Rages On


Proposed Legislation H.R. 875, Would Prohibit Americans From Raising Food

We Have Seen the Enemy...

Was the Bailout Itself a Scam?

The "Card Check" Hullabaloo

House approves bill to tax AIG bonuses at 90%

Auto parts suppliers to get $5 billion in taxpayer bailout

13 firms receiving bailouts owe back taxes

Citigroup May Spend $10 Million for Executive Suite

Update - Dollar, Gold, Oil

The Secret War Against American Workers

A Disturbing D.C. Whodunit

Pentagon drafts border plan as Mexico hits US protectionism

Growing hostility in US to Afghanistan war

Obama defends Wall Street as anger grows over bonuses, bailouts

Torture and the American ruling class

National debt hits record $11 trillion

How To Destroy the Government in Three Easy Steps

Israel's American Chattel

Thousands of Haitians demonstrate to demand Aristide’s return

Does America Face the Risk of a Fascist Backlash?

Not Just Homeowners, But Renters Are Really Getting Screwed

The Most Pervasive Combat Injury Among U.S. Soldiers is Invisible -- and the Pentagon Has Tried

Preparing for Civil Unrest in America

Forget the bonuses, AIG can't repay its loans, GAO says

Who sent soldiers into an Alabama town last week?

Recession-Weary Americans Outraged by AIG Bonuses

Dodd: Treasury Officials Insisted On Weakening Bonus Provision

Rep. Dennis Kucinich Seeks Investigation of Cheney "Assassination Ring"

Obama Is Adopting Bush's Playbook In Selling the "War on Terror"

Vets Recoil at Idea of Using Insurance for Service Injuries

Venality Bites

The Real AIG Conspiracy


Military Rape Reports Rise, Prosecution Still Low

Caterpillar to Lay Off 2,454 Workers in Three States

New Evidence of Bush Torture Crimes

Indentured Servants, Circa 2009

U. S. credit card defaults rise to 20 year-high

Ghost Town: An American Nightmare

Completed Foreclosures Hit New High in February

U. S. exports falling at 49% pace as customers fade away

Blackwater back in U. S. employ

Those Hit Hardest Get No Bailout

Perp Walks Instead of Bonuses

Education About Toxic Vaccines is Sweeping the Nation

Top officials urge dialogue with Hamas

Protests greet Bush's first speech as ex-president

Russia to re-arm military as Nato expands

Cuomo: 73 AIG Executives Got $1 Million Bonuses or More

AIG bonus millionaires have left the company

Unknown Afghanistan

Winter Soldiers Speak Out in Europe


Citi, Morgan Stanley look to sidestep bonus caps: report

Citigroup CEO awarded $10. 8 million

A. I. G. Using "Suicide Strategy" to Push Bonuses

Ben Bernanke's False Analogy: "A House Burning Down"

Tide Turns Against Schools as Foreclosures Rise

The Granny Bashers

Bolivia Passes Land From Rich to Poor

Blue Dogs & Citigroup Fight the Employee Free Choice Act

Labor Union Bill Raises Broader Capitalism Issues

Selective Vision: Iran, Israel And Nuclear Arms

"The People United Will Never Be Defeated"


How the US is shifting the financial crisis onto the rest of the world

The TALF - Bernanke's Witness Protection Program 477180426

Obama administration: Guantanamo detainees have 'no constitutional rights'

Mint Suspends Gold Sales: China Warns on $ and Debt!: UBS Warns of $10K Gold

Obedience to Authority in America

FBI cited for poor freedom of information work

Foreclosures just keep on rising

Cities Are Selling Stimulus Funds to Each Other

45 percent of world's wealth destroyed in less than 1 year: Blackstone CEO

Obama Extends Sanctions Against Iran

Focus on The Gaza Blockade

CIA Report: Israel Will Fall In 20 YearsCIA Report: Israel Will Fall In 20 Years

Homeless Tent Cities Springing Up In US

Venezuela seizes rice plant from Cargill

Washington Post Is a Neocon Propaganda Sheet

The Future of Human Beings is What Matters

SPP: Updating the Militarization and Annexation of North America

Let the Thing Be Pressed

A. I. G. Planning Huge Bonuses After $170 Billion Bailout

Big Oil Tiptoes Back into Iraq

"Can My Employer Do That To Me?"

Fed reports record fall in household net worth

Sellers Will Be Required to Provide Thumbprint Before Deal Is Approved

US president remains committed to strong military

U. S. Keeps Broad Right to Detain, Retires 'Enemy Combatant'


More Companies At Risk of Failing

Reforming the Global Financial System, Flushing the Parasites

Haircut Time For Bondholders

Secret State Police Report: Ron Paul, Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin, Libertarians are Terrorists

Mexico violence prompts new look at US gun laws

Truth Commission Is Not Enough: Why We Must Have A Criminal Investigation Into Bush's Lawlesness

Fighting Back in America's 30-Year Class War

The ‘Comfy Retirement’ Dream Has Exploded

Unemployment 'is now a national emergency'

U. S. unemployment to near 10 percent as rout worsens

U. S. jobless claims hit 654,000 last week

More than 5 million Americans collecting jobless benefits

Half of Americans Are Two Paychecks Away from Hardship

Historians in Support of the Employee Free Choice Act


The Obama Deception - The Truth Strikes Back

Bush 'executive assassination ring' reported directly to Cheney office: Seymour Hersh

David Fiderer: How Dumb Does Alan Greenspan Think We Are? Very

Is the Next Defense Budget a Stimulus Package?

Citigroup Enters Union Fray With Anti-EFCA Call

Key Obama economic adviser admits he has no answers

US bank regulator retires amid fraud scandal

Naval incidents highlight tense US-China relations

The Upcoming Political Crisis in Washington

Former Accused Iraqi Agent - Susan Lindauer, Secret Charges and The Patriot Act in Action

The Financial Crisis Pushes Europe to the Brink of Disaster

Business Rules: No Democracy, No Decency, No Unions

Rahall Proposes Bill to End All Mining in the U. S.

Listening to the G. I. Voice at Fort Lewis

Second-Class Citizens in Virginia

Give Me a Union, Not a Wheelchair: The Case for EFCA

Foreclosures up 30 percent in February

Congressional Democrats balk at rescinding tax cuts for the rich

Freddie Mac seeks $30. 8B in US aid after 4Q loss

Administration to Ask Congress to Expand Funds Available to IMF

U. S. cybersecurity head quits, citing growing role of spy agencies

Terrorist watch list hits 1 million


US companies pull out of retirement contributions

Seven states post jobless rates above 10 percent

Europe’s banks face a $2 trillion dollar shortage

The American Criminal Injustice System

Why the U. S. Under Obama Is Still a Dictatorship

UN Report Says US Rendition Policy Broke International Law

The Neocons Strike Back

Army Regs - Civilian Inmate Labor Program - pdf

Fusion Centers: Giving Cops Too Much Information?

Western military forces turning inward in anticipation of domestic unrest

The Federal Reserve is Bankrupt


Imagine by Ron Paul

1 in 50 children in US is homeless

Second Coming of Known Unknowns

US and Chinese Navies Face Off in South China Sea

Obama And US Commander Discuss Military Intervention In Mexico

Obama: Military Aggression And Attacks On Democratic Rights To Continue

Civil Unrest in America?

Modern Slavery in America

Southern Oligarchy and the Labor Unions

Corporations Step Up Drive Against Bill to Ease Unionization

World Bank predicts first decline in global output since WWII

Regulatory reports show 5 biggest banks face huge loss risk

Obama Intends To Use Signing Statements


Dow Could Hit 4,000: Video

Plunging assets cost $50,000bn

HSBC plunges over 24 percent to near 14-year low

US Downturn Dragging World Into Recession

The Economy -- Not the President -- Is Tanking the Market

Like Somali Pirates, Wall Street Holds U. S. to Ransom

GE under close watch for corporate crisis

Farm Control that will drive Organic Farms out of Business

US Continues Military Encirclement Of Russia

Controversy Over Yucca Mountain May Be Ending

Jon Stewart's rant: Santelli re(un)wound

FDIC warns US bank deposit insurance fund may tank

Army wants private firm to provide media team to support public affairs officer in Iraq

Israel annexing East Jerusalem, says EU

U. S. Army document describes Israel as 'a nuclear power'

George Bush could be next on the war crimes list

Younger and Hungrier in America

Pentagon's Unwanted Projects in Earmarks

Who Got AIG's Bailout Billions?

Treasury Official Quits Amidst Fraud Scandal


Outlaw the Shadow Banking System!

California's new budget and the social crisis in San Diego

Top U. S., European Banks Got $50 Billion in AIG Aid

Merrill Lynch probes $400m trader loss

Defending the profits of the health care industry

Media Blackout on Single-Payer Healthcare

The U. S. Financial System Is Effectively Insolvent

America Loses 23,000 Jobs Every Day

Movement spreads to boycott Israel

CIA Confirmed Videotapes Depict "Enhanced Interrogation Methods"

Why Did So Few Americans Give a Damn?

Supreme Court Upholds President’s Power To Indefinitely Detain People Without Charge


The credit crunch tent city which has returned to haunt America

Barack Obama bets the farm in $4 trillion poker game

Gaza homes destruction 'wanton'

Trickle Down Misery

U. S. Military Aid to Israel

AIG: Billions Dished Out in the Dark

Hell Hath No Fury Like an Imperialist Scorned

Defense Contractors Gird for Fight

Unemployment Jumps to 8. 1 Percent as Job Loss Accelerates

Job Forecast for College Seniors: Grimmer Than Ever

House Approves Mortgage Bankruptcy Overhaul

Tens of Thousands of Troops Have Traumatic Brain Injury, Officials Say

Obama-linked think tank calls for US “nuclear umbrella” in Middle East

Retirement funds in danger for millions of Americans

The collapse of General Motors

The Wall Street Criminals Are Still Running Free, Stealing Billions

Is the Future Going Down the Drain? Baby Boomers Going Bust

Food stamp enrollment jumps to record 31. 8 million

US private sector cuts 697,000 jobs

Supreme Court Strikes Down FDA Pre-emption

Fed Refuses to Release Bank Data, Insists on Secrecy

CIA Prisons to Be Evaluated in One-Year Review by Senate Panel

Panetta: No one to be punished for interrogations

Baxter admits sending live avian flu viruses to subcontrator

New Cold War on Hold?

Hidden Pension Fiasco May Foment Another $1 Trillion Bailout


16,000 Unopened Claims Letters Hidden at VA Offices

Truth Commission May Not Lead to Prosecutions

Bush Memos on Presidential Power Shock Legal Experts

War Crimes and Double Standards

GM auditors: 'Substantial doubt' company can stay afloat

Conyers Cuts a Deal With Rove, Miers

1 in 5 Mortgages Are Underwater

As Markets Slump, U. S. Tries to Halt Cycle of Fear

A Shattering Moment In America's Fall From Power

Ron Paul: "We Will Remain a Pariah in the Middle East"

How Wall Street Paid For Its Own Funeral

1/3 Of America Is Crazy: They Think Their Jobs Are Safe

US top court: FDA-approved labels no legal shield

Diebold Voting System Has 'Delete' Button for Erasing Audit Logs

U. S. still perpetuates racism

Don't Disenfranchise Millions

Some Doctors Attempt to Silence Internet Critics

Obama Expands War, Slaps Peace Voters


Justice Department to Reveal More Bush Administration Legal Memos

Memos Provide Blueprint for Police State

How Close the Bush Bullet

Auto sales plunge 42 percent

US Justice Department memos: the specter of military dictatorship

US vehicle sales plummet

Let AIG Go Bankrupt, Not America

Bernanke Says U. S. May Need to Expand Bank Rescue

Radio chip coming soon to your driver's license?

America's Fiscal Collapse

Playing the Banking Game

Obama’s Coalition of the Unwilling

Toxins ’R’ Us

Billions Dished Out in the Shadows

Obama: Bush government tried to undermine unions

Ethnic Cleansing and Israel

Wars, Endless Wars

Chicago Rushes Head First Into 'Limitless' Surveillance


Justice Memos Gave Bush Total Power

Secret Bush Memos Released: Read Them Here!

Bush-era memo claims unfettered rendition powers

Bush Administration Memos Claimed Vast War Powers

Bush Lawyers Approved Constitution-Free Domestic Military Ops, Docs Show

Chicago Rushes Head First Into 'Limitless' Surveillance

SOCOM: the covert army of the US

As unemployment hits double digits, California lurches towards depression

US stocks hit lowest level in 12 years

Former Guantanamo guard details prisoner abuse

Hillary Clinton reprises “peace process” fraud

The Recession and the 'Deserving Poor'

A. I. G. Reports Loss of $61. 7 Billion as U. S. Gives More Aid

Dow Below 6,800; Lowest Close Since '97


The American Media Misdiagnosis

Worst job losses in 60 years expected

Credit Card Charge-Offs At Record High In January

While the Economy Tanks, the President's Team Dawdles

Scientists' Stem Cell Breakthrough Could End Ethical Dilemma

Gates: Iran "Not Close" to Nuclear Weapon

Senator Hatch's secret ties to drugmakers exposed

CIA destroyed nearly 100 interrogation tapes

Washington in conflict with Afghan president over early poll

“Enemy combatant” indicted to block Supreme Court review

With Iraq plan, Obama embraces US militarism

16 US banks collapse in just two months

Buffett: Economy will remain in 'shambles'

Is A Major War A Possibility In 2009?

A Banana Republic By 2012?

Who Will Rescue Us?474161973

25% Slash for Defense Spending Needed Now

Chavez Orders Army To Seize Venezuela Rice Mills

Mortgage Delinquencies Jump 50 Percent

Propping Up a House of Cards

AIG to get up to extra $30 billion in Fed assistance

French professor sacked over 9/11 'conspiracy' theory

US Senate panel to probe interrogations, in secret

Declassified NATO documents describing the West's war strategy in Afghanistan

MI5 Alert On Bank Riots


The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak

Dow Jones Industrial Average marks worst February point drop in history

'Mass Layoffs' Soared In January

Ron Paul On The Collapse Of Capitalism

Students occupy New York University

Firms Defraud Government but Get New US Contracts

Court Rejects Obama Bid to Stop Wiretapping Suit

Obama to Overturn Bush "Right to Conscience" Rule

U. S. officials move to end Bush healthcare rule

Pitt, CMU money managers arrested in fraud

Problem bank list tops 250

Citigroup Stock Costs Less Than Their ATM Fee

United States Now Citigroup Largest Shareholder

Citi Gets Third Rescue as U. S. Plans to Raise Stake

U. S. Economy: GDP Shrinks 6. 2%, More Than Estimate

The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak

The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak

The Imperial Unconscious

Afghan Faces, Predators, Reapers, Terrorist Stars, Roman Conquerors, Imperial Graveyards, and Other Oddities of the Truncated American Century

By Tom Engelhardt

Go To Original

Sometimes, it's the everyday things, the ones that fly below the radar, that matter.

Here, according to Bloomberg News, is part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's recent testimony on the Afghan War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"U.S. goals in Afghanistan must be 'modest, realistic,' and 'above all, there must be an Afghan face on this war,' Gates said. 'The Afghan people must believe this is their war and we are there to help them. If they think we are there for our own purposes, then we will go the way of every other foreign army that has been in Afghanistan.'"

Now, in our world, a statement like this seems so obvious, so reasonable as to be beyond comment. And yet, stop a moment and think about this part of it: "there must be an Afghan face on this war." U.S. military and civilian officials used an equivalent phrase in 2005-2006 when things were going really, really wrong in Iraq. It was then commonplace -- and no less unremarked upon -- for them to urgently suggest that an "Iraqi face" be put on events there.

Evidently back in vogue for a different war, the phrase is revelatory -- and oddly blunt. As an image, there's really only one way to understand it (not that anyone here stops to do so). After all, what does it mean to "put a face" on something that assumedly already has a face? In this case, it has to mean putting an Afghan mask over what we know to be the actual "face" of the Afghan War -- ours -- a foreign face that men like Gates recognize, quite correctly, is not the one most Afghans want to see. It's hardly surprising that the Secretary of Defense would pick up such a phrase, part of Washington's everyday arsenal of words and images when it comes to geopolitics, power, and war.

And yet, make no mistake, this is Empire-speak, American-style. It's the language -- behind which lies a deeper structure of argument and thought -- that is essential to Washington's vision of itself as a planet-straddling goliath. Think of that "Afghan face"/mask, in fact, as part of the flotsam and jetsam that regularly bubbles up from the American imperial unconscious.

Of course, words create realities even though such language, in all its strangeness, essentially passes unnoticed here. Largely uncommented upon, it helps normalize American practices in the world, comfortably shielding us from certain global realities; but it also has the potential to blind us to those realities, which, in perilous times, can be dangerous indeed. So let's consider just a few entries in what might be thought of as The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak.

War Hidden in Plain Sight: There has recently been much reporting on, and even some debate here about, the efficacy of the Obama administration's decision to increase the intensity of CIA missile attacksmore than 30 such missile attacks have been launched on the Pakistani side of that border against suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban targets. The pace of attacks has actually risen since Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, as have casualties from the missile strikes, as well as popular outrage in Pakistan over the attacks. from drone aircraft in what Washington, in a newly coined neologism reflecting a widening war, now calls "Af-Pak" -- the Pashtun tribal borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since August 2008,

Thanks to Senator Diane Feinstein, we also know that, despite strong official Pakistani government protests, someone official in that country is doing more than looking the other way while they occur. As the Senator revealed recently, at least some of the CIA's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) cruising the skies over Af-Pak are evidently stationed at Pakistani bases. We learned recently as well that American Special Operations units are now regularly making forays inside Pakistan "primarily to gather intelligence"; that a unit of 70 American Special Forces advisors, a "secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command," is now aiding and training Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps paramilitary troops, again inside Pakistan; and that, despite (or perhaps, in part, because of) these American efforts, the influence of the Pakistani Taliban is actually expanding, even as Pakistan threatens to melt down.

Mystifyingly enough, however, this Pakistani part of the American war in Afghanistan is still referred to in major U.S. papers as a "covert war." As news about it pours out, who it's being hidden from is one of those questions no one bothers to ask.

On February 20th, the New York Times' Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger typically wrote:

"With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government... Under standard policy for covert operations, the C.I.A. strikes inside Pakistan have not been publicly acknowledged either by the Obama administration or the Bush administration."

On February 25th, Mazzetti and Helene Cooper reported that new CIA head Leon Panetta essentially bragged to reporters that "the agency's campaign against militants in Pakistan's tribal areas was the 'most effective weapon' the Obama administration had to combat Al Qaeda's top leadership... Mr. Panetta stopped short of directly acknowledging the missile strikes, but he said that 'operational efforts' focusing on Qaeda leaders had been successful." Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal reported the next day that Panetta said the attacks are "probably the most effective weapon we have to try to disrupt al Qaeda right now." She added, "Mr. Obama and National Security Adviser James Jones have strongly endorsed their use, [Panetta] said."

Uh, covert war? These "covert" "operational efforts" have been front-page news in the Pakistani press for months, they were part of the U.S. presidential campaign debates, and they certainly can't be a secret for the Pashtuns in those border areas who must see drone aircraft overhead relatively regularly, or experience the missiles arriving in their neighborhoods.

In the U.S., "covert war" has long been a term for wars like the U.S.-backed Contra War against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s, which were openly discussed, debated, and often lauded in this country. To a large extent, when aspects of these wars have actually been "covert" -- that is, purposely hidden from anyone -- it has been from the American public, not the enemies being warred upon. At the very least, however, such language, however threadbare, offers official Washington a kind of "plausible deniability" when it comes to thinking about what kind of an "American face" we present to the world.

Imperial Naming Practices: In our press, anonymous U.S. officials now point with pride to the increasing "precision" and "accuracy" of those drone missile attacks in taking out Taliban or al-Qaeda figures without (supposedly) taking out the tribespeople who live in the same villages or neighboring compounds. Such pieces lend our air war an almost sterile quality. They tend to emphasize the extraordinary lengths to which planners go to avoid "collateral damage." To many Americans, it must then seem strange, even irrational, that perfectly non-fundamentalist Pakistanis should be quite so outraged about attacks aimed at the world's worst terrorists.

On the other hand, consider for a moment the names of those drones now regularly in the skies over "Pashtunistan." These are no less regularly published in our press to no comment at all. The most basic of the armed drones goes by the name of Predator, a moniker which might as well have come directly from those nightmarish sci-fi movies about an alien that feasts on humans. Undoubtedly, however, it was used in the way Col. Michael Steele of the 101st Airborne Division meant it when he exhorted his brigade deploying to Iraq (according to Thomas E. Ricks' new book The Gamble) to remember: "You're the predator."

The Predator drone is armed with "only" two missiles. The more advanced drone, originally called the Predator B, now being deployed to the skies over Af-Pak, has been dubbed the Reaper -- as in the Grim Reaper. Now, there's only one thing such a "hunter-killer UAV" could be reaping, and you know just what that is: lives. It can be armed with up to 14 missiles (or four missiles and two 500-pound bombs), which means it packs quite a deadly wallop.

Oh, by the way, those missiles are named as well. They're Hellfire missiles. So, if you want to consider the nature of this covert war in terms of names alone: Predators and Reapers are bringing down the fire from some satanic hell upon the peasants, fundamentalist guerrillas, and terrorists of the Af-Pak border regions.

In Washington, when the Af-Pak War is discussed, it's in the bloodless, bureaucratic language of "global counterinsurgency" or "irregular warfare" (IW), of "soft power," "hard power," and "smart power." But flying over the Pashtun wildlands is the blunt-edged face of predation and death, ready at a moment's notice to deliver hellfire to those below.

Imperial Arguments: Let's pursue this just a little further. Faced with rising numbers of civilian casualties from U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan and an increasingly outraged Afghan public, American officials tend to place the blame for most sky-borne "collateral damage" squarely on the Taliban. As Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen bluntly explained recently, "[T]he enemy hides behind civilians." Hence, so this Empire-speak argument goes, dead civilians are actually the Taliban's doing.

U.S. military and civilian spokespeople have long accused Taliban guerrillas of using civilians as "shields," or even of purposely luring devastating air strikes down on Afghan wedding parties to create civilian casualties and so inflame the sensibilities of rural Afghanistan. This commonplace argument has two key features: a claim that theyus do it (kill civilians) and the implication that the Taliban fighters "hiding" among innocent villagers or wedding revelers are so many cowards, willing to put their fellow Pashtuns at risk rather than come out and fight like men -- and, of course, given the firepower arrayed against them, die. made

The U.S. media regularly records this argument without reflecting on it. In this country, in fact, the evil of combatants "hiding" among civilians seems so self-evident, especially given the larger evil of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, that no one thinks twice about it.

And yet like so much of Empire-speak on a one-way planet, this argument is distinctly uni-directional. What's good for the guerrilla goose, so to speak, is inapplicable to the imperial gander. To illustrate, consider the American "pilots" flying those unmanned Predators and Reapers. We don't know exactly where all of them are (other than not in the drones), but some are certainly at Nellis Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas.

In other words, were the Taliban guerrillas to leave the protection of those civilians and come out into the open, there would be no enemy to fight in the usual sense, not even a predatory one. The pilot firing that Hellfire missile into some Pakistani border village or compound is, after all, using the UAV's cameras, including by next year a new system hair-raisingly dubbed "Gorgon Stare," to locate his target and then, via console, as in a single-shooter video game, firing the missile, possibly from many thousands of miles away.

And yet nowhere in our world will you find anyone making the argument that those pilots are in "hiding" like so many cowards. Such a thought seems absurd to us, as it would if it were applied to the F-16 pilots taking off from aircraft carriers off the Afghan coast or the B-1 pilots flying out of unnamed Middle Eastern bases or the Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia. And yet, whatever those pilots may do in Afghan skies, unless they experience a mechanical malfunction, they are in no more danger than if they, too, were somewhere outside Las Vegas. In the last seven years, a few helicopters, but no planes, have gone down in Afghanistan.

When the Afghan mujahedeen fought the Soviets in the 1980s, the CIA supplied them with hand-held Stinger missiles, the most advanced surface-to-air missile in the U.S. arsenal, and they did indeed start knocking Soviet helicopters and planes out of the skies (which proved the beginning of the end for the Russians). The Afghan or Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaeda terrorists have no such capability today, which means, if you think about it, that what we here imagine as an "air war" involves none of the dangers we would normally associate with war. Looked at in another light, those missile strikes and bombings are really one-way acts of slaughter.

The Taliban's tactics are, of course, the essence of guerrilla warfare, which always involves an asymmetrical battle against more powerful armies and weaponry, and which, if successful, always depends on the ability of the guerrilla to blend into the environment, natural and human, or, as Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong so famously put it, to "swim" in the "sea of the people."

If you imagine your enemy simply using the villagers of Afghanistan as "shields" or "hiding" like so many cowards among them, you are speaking the language of imperial power but also blinding yourself (or the American public) to the actual realities of the war you're fighting.

Imperial Jokes: In October 2008, Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, refused to renew the U.S. lease at Manta Air Base, one of at least 761 foreign bases, macro to micro, that the U.S. garrisons worldwide. Correa reportedly said: "We'll renew the base on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami -- an Ecuadorean base. If there's no problem having foreign soldiers on a country's soil, surely they'll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States."

This qualifies as an anti-imperial joke. The "leftist" president of Ecuador was doing no more than tweaking the nose of goliath. An Ecuadorian base in Miami? Absurd. No one on the planet could take such a suggestion seriously.

On the other hand, when it comes to the U.S. having a major base in Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian land that not one in a million Americans has ever heard of, that's no laughing matter. After all, Washington has been paying $20 million a year in direct rent for the use of that country's Manas Air Base (and, as indirect rent, another $80 million has gone to various Kyrgyzstani programs). As late as last October, the Pentagon was planning to sink another $100 million into construction at Manas "to expand aircraft parking areas at the base and provide a 'hot cargo pad' -- an area safe enough to load and unload hazardous and explosive cargo -- to be located away from inhabited facilities." That, however, was when things started to go wrong. Now, Kyrgyzstan's parliament has voted to expel the U.S. from Manas within six months, a serious blow to our resupply efforts for the Afghan War. More outrageous yet to Washington, the Kyrgyzstanis seem to have done this at the bidding of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has the nerve to want to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence in what used to be the borderlands of the old Soviet Union.

Put in a nutshell, despite the crumbling U.S. economic situation and the rising costs of the Afghan War, we still act as if we live on a one-way planet. Some country demanding a base in the U.S.? That's a joke or an insult, while the U.S. potentially gaining or losing a base almost anywhere on the planet may be an insult, but it's never a laughing matter.

Imperial Thought: Recently, to justify those missile attacks in Pakistan, U.S. officials have been leaking details on the program's "successes" to reporters. Anonymous officials have offered the "possibly wishful estimate" that the CIA "covert war" has led to the deaths (or capture) of 11 of al Qaeda's top 20 commanders, including, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, "Abu Layth al-Libi, whom U.S. officials described as 'a rising star' in the group."

"Rising star" is such an American phrase, melding as it does imagined terror hierarchies with the lingo of celebrity tabloids. In fact, one problem with Empire-speak, and imperial thought more generally, is the way it prevents imperial officials from imagining a world not in their own image. So it's not surprising that, despite their best efforts, they regularly conjure up their enemies as a warped version of themselves -- hierarchical, overly reliant on leaders, and top heavy.

In the Vietnam era, for instance, American officials spent a remarkable amount of effort sending troops to search for, and planes to bomb, the border sanctuaries of Cambodia and Laos on a fruitless hunt for COSVN (the so-called Central Office for South Vietnam), the supposed nerve center of the communist enemy, aka "the bamboo Pentagon." Of course, it wasn't there to be found, except in Washington's imperial imagination.

In the Af-Pak "theater," we may be seeing a similar phenomenon. Underpinning the CIA killer-drone program is a belief that the key to combating al-Qaeda (and possibly the Taliban) is destroying its leadership one by one. As key Pakistani officials have tried to explain, the missile attacks, which have indeed killed some al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban figures (as well as whoever was in their vicinity), are distinctly counterproductive. The deaths of those figures in no way compensates for the outrage, the destabilization, the radicalization that the attacks engender in the region. They may, in fact, be functionally strengthening each of those movements.

What it's hard for Washington to grasp is this: "decapitation," to use another American imperial term, is not a particularly effective strategy with a decentralized guerrilla or terror organization. The fact is a headless guerrilla movement is nowhere near as brainless or helpless as a headless Washington would be.

Only recently, Eric Schmitt and Jane Perlez of the New York Timesreported that, while top U.S. officials were exhibiting optimism about the effectiveness of the missile strikes, Pakistani officials were pointing to "ominous signs of Al Qaeda's resilience" and suggesting "that Al Qaeda was replenishing killed fighters and midlevel leaders with less experienced but more hard-core militants, who are considered more dangerous because they have fewer allegiances to local Pakistani tribes... The Pakistani intelligence assessment found that Al Qaeda had adapted to the blows to its command structure by shifting 'to conduct decentralized operations under small but well-organized regional groups' within Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Imperial Dreams and Nightmares: Americans have rarely liked to think of themselves as "imperial," so what is it about Rome in these last years? First, the neocons, in the flush of seeming victory in 2002-2003 began to imagine the U.S. as a "new Rome" (or new British Empire), or as Charles Krauthammer wrote as early as February 2001 in Time Magazine, "America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome."

All roads on this planet, they were then convinced, led ineluctably to Washington. Now, of course, they visibly don't, and the imperial bragging about surpassing the Roman or British empires has long since faded away. When it comes to the Afghan War, in fact, those (resupply) "roads" seem to lead, embarrassingly enough, through Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Iran. But the comparison to conquering Rome evidently remains on the brain.

When, for instance, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen wrote an op-edWashington Post recently, drumming up support for the revised, age-of-Obama American mission in Afghanistan, he just couldn't help starting off with an inspiring tale about the Romans and a small Italian city-state, Locri, that they conquered. As he tells it, the ruler the Romans installed in Locri, a rapacious fellow named Pleminius, proved a looter and a tyrant. And yet, Mullen assures us, the Locrians so believed in "the reputation for equanimity and fairness that Rome had built" that they sent a delegation to the Roman Senate, knowing they could get a hearing, and demanded restitution; and indeed, the tyrant was removed. for the

Admittedly, this seems a far-fetched analogy to the U.S. in Afghanistan (and don't for a second mix up Pleminius, that rogue, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, even though the Obama-ites evidently now believe him corrupt and replaceable). Still, as Mullen sees it, the point is: "We don't always get it right. But like the early Romans, we strive in the end to make it right. We strive to earn trust. And that makes all the difference."

Mullen is, it seems, the Aesop of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, in his somewhat overheated brain, we evidently remain the conquering (but just) "early" Romans -- before, of course, the fatal rot set in.

And then there's the Washington Post's Thomas Ricks, a superb reporter who, in his latest book, gives voice to the views of Centcom Commander David Petraeus. Reflecting on Iraq, where he (like the general) believes we could still be fighting in "2015," Ricks begins a recent Post piece this way:

"In October 2008, as I was finishing my latest book on the Iraq war, I visited the Roman Forum during a stop in Italy. I sat on a stone wall on the south side of the Capitoline Hill and studied the two triumphal arches at either end of the Forum, both commemorating Roman wars in the Middle East... The structures brought home a sad realization: It's simply unrealistic to believe that the U.S. military will be able to pull out of the Middle East… It was a week when U.S. forces had engaged in combat in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan -- a string of countries stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean -- following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, the Romans and the British."

With the waning of British power, Ricks continues, it "has been the United States' turn to take the lead there." And our turn, as it happens, just isn't over yet. Evidently that, at least, is the view from our imperial capital and from our military viceroys out on the peripheries.

Honestly, Freud would have loved these guys. They seem to channel the imperial unconscious. Take David Petraeus. For him, too, the duties and dangers of empire evidently weigh heavily on the brain. Like a number of key figures, civilian and military, he has lately begun to issue warnings about Afghanistan's dangers. As the Washington Postreported, "[Petraeus] suggested that the odds of success were low, given that foreign military powers have historically met with defeat in Afghanistan. 'Afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires,' he said. 'We cannot take that history lightly.'"

Of course, he's worrying about the graveyard aspect of this, but what I find curious -- exactly because no one thinks it odd enough to comment on here -- is the functional admission in the use of this old adage about Afghanistan that we fall into the category of empires, whether or not in search of a graveyard in which to die.

And he's not alone in this. Secretary of Defense Gates put the matter similarly recently: "Without the support of the Afghan people, Gates said, the U.S. would simply 'go the way of every other foreign army that's ever been in Afghanistan.'"

Imperial Blindness: Think of the above as just a few prospective entries in The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak that will, of course, never be compiled. We're so used to such language, so inured to it and to the thinking behind it, so used, in fact, to living on a one-way planet in which all roads lead to and from Washington, that it doesn't seem like a language at all. It's just part of the unexamined warp and woof of everyday life in a country that still believes it normal to garrison the planet, regularly fight wars halfway across the globe, find triumph or tragedy in the gain or loss of an air base in a country few Americans could locate on a map, and produce military manuals on counterinsurgency warfare the way a do-it-yourself furniture maker would produce instructions for constructing a cabinet from a kit.

We don't find it strange to have 16 intelligence agencies, some devoted to listening in on, and spying on, the planet, or capable of running "covert wars" in tribal borderlands thousands of miles distant, or of flying unmanned drones over those same borderlands destroying those who come into camera view. We're inured to the bizarreness of it all and of the language (and pretensions) that go with it.

If The Dictionary of American Empire-Speak were ever produced, who here would buy it? Who would feel the need to check out what seems like the only reasonable and self-evident language for describing the world? How else, after all, would we operate? How else would any American in a position of authority talk in Washington or Baghdad or Islamabad or Rome?

So it undoubtedly seemed to the Romans, too. And we know what finally happened to their empire and the language that went with it. Such a language plays its role in normalizing the running of an empire. It allows officials (and in our case the media as well) not to see what would be inconvenient to the smooth functioning of such an enormous undertaking. Embedded in its words and phrases is a fierce way of thinking (even if we don't see it that way), as well as plausible deniability. And in the good times, its uses are obvious.

On the other hand, when the normal ways of empire cease to function well, that same language can suddenly work to blind the imperial custodians -- which is, after all, what the foreign policy "team" of the Obama era is -- to necessary realities. At a moment when it might be important to grasp what the "American face" in the mirror actually looks like, you can't see it.

And sometimes what you can't bring yourself to see can, as now, hurt you.