Saturday, March 10, 2012

Obama Hails Jobs Report Despite Nearly 13 Million Unemployed

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The Obama administration hailed the February jobs report, released by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Friday morning, although the 227,000 net new jobs made only a slight dent in the army of nearly 13 million unemployed in America, including 5.5 million unemployed for more than six months.

At this rate of net job creation, and with 125,000 people entering the job market each month, it would require 130 months—nearly 11 years—to put all those currently unemployed back to work. That is without taking into account future economic shocks from the US and world financial system.

A more detailed breakdown of the jobs report suggests the flimsy character of the supposed economic recovery. More than one third of the increase came in two categories—temporary jobs (45,000) and food service and bars (41,000)—which are typically low-paid. There was an increase of 61,000 jobs in health care and social assistance, a category that includes many low-paid jobs in nursing homes and hospitals. While manufacturing created 31,000 new jobs, construction actually showed a decline of 13,000.

Despite the rise in the number of jobs, the jobless rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent because of a surge of new workers into the labor force. A separate Labor Department survey of households found the number of people employed rose by 428,000 in February, but the number of unemployed also increased, by 48,000, because the total labor force jumped by 476,000.

The figures reported by the BLS were slightly better than economists forecasted during the week. Private-sector jobs rose by 233,000, while public-sector employers cut 6,000 workers. The BLS also revised upward its December and January figures, from 203,000 to 233,000 and from 243,000 to 284,000, respectively.

The combined total of 744,000 jobs was the largest for any three-month period since 2006, an indication of the anemic character of the “recovery.” By comparison, during the worst of the financial crisis that followed the September 2008 Wall Street crash, American corporations were destroying more than 744,000 jobs every month.

Most economic forecasters adopted a cautious attitude to the figures reported over the last few months, partly because the numbers themselves are suspect, and partly because, even if valid, they are expected to mark the high point of job creation for 2012.

The weekly figures on new unemployment claims have actually risen for the past three weeks and remain above 350,000, a level that indicates a labor market in considerable crisis. The number of job cuts tallied by the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas was down slightly from January to February, from 53,486 to 51,728, but it was 2 percent higher than in February 2011.

A report issued by the investment bank Goldman Sachs this week suggested that the method of seasonally adjusting the jobless figures was skewing the results, because any comparison to the disastrous winter of 2008-2009 will inevitably make the current period look better than it is.

Andrew Tilton, an economist for the bank, told Reuters, “We think that the improvement over the last few months dramatically overstates the underlying improvement. You will not see that rate of improvement going forward.” The bank now expects the jobless rate to stay virtually unchanged for the rest of the year, ending 2012 at 8.2 percent.

Other economists, including Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, have noted that the rate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the United States, just under 3 percent, cannot account for a sharp drop in the unemployment rate from 9 percent last fall to 8.3 percent today. The economic commentator for the New York Times, David Leonhardt, wrote Friday, “Based solely on the gross domestic product numbers, the obvious conclusion is that job growth will slow in coming months.”

The US private-sector job total in 2012 remains at or below the level of 2000, a fact that demonstrates the failure of American capitalism over a protracted period and under both Republican and Democratic presidents. The BLS report found that a staggering 23.5 million people were either unemployed or underemployed—working part-time when they wanted full-time work.

Nonetheless, the White House celebrated the job figures as a boost to Obama’s reelection campaign, and the president visited a new Rolls-Royce engine plant in Petersburg, Virginia to trumpet the supposed economic progress.

Obama has made the revival of American manufacturing a central component of his political campaigning, while disguising the fact that this revival is based on slashing the cost of labor to American corporations through wage-cutting and the destruction of benefits, as well as cutting back on the enforcement of health and safety standards and environmental regulations.

In his remarks in Petersburg, as in every recent speech on the economy, Obama hailed the bailout of the auto industry as a great success. He did not mention that the wages for new-hires at auto plants have been slashed by 50 percent, a standard that is now spreading throughout American manufacturing, to make US companies more “competitive” with their rivals in Europe and Asia.

These measures have had an impact on the entire American working class. According to the BLS report Friday, average hourly earnings rose only three cents in February, to $23.31 an hour, and were up only 1.9 percent from a year ago, far below the rate of inflation. The increase in the average worker’s annual income would not even pay for the increased cost of gas to commute the typical distance to a job.

For younger workers, the position is far worse. A report from the Economic Policy Institute released earlier this week found that the wages paid to entry-level workers fell across-the-board from 2000 to 2011, regardless of the education or skill level of the workers involved.

Entry-level wages for male workers fell from $12.82 an hour to $11.68 an hour, in 2011 dollars, while entry-level wages for female workers fell from $10.93 an hour to $9.92 an hour over the same period.

Greece Has Defaulted – Which Country In Europe Is Next?

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Well, it is official. The restructuring deal between Greece and private investors has been pushed through and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association has ruled that this is a credit event which will trigger credit-default swap contracts. The ISDA is saying that there are approximately $3.2 billion in credit-default swap contracts on Greek debt outstanding, and most analysts expect that the global financial system will be able to absorb these losses. But still, 3.2 billion dollars is nothing to scoff at, and some of these financial institutions that wrote a lot of these contracts on Greek debt are going to be hurting. This deal with private investors may have "rescued" Greece for the moment, but the consequences of this deal are going to be felt for years to come. For example, now that Greece has gotten a sweet "haircut" from private investors, politicians in Portugal, Italy, Spain and other European nations are going to wonder why they shouldn't get some "debt forgiveness" too. Also, private investors are almost certainly going to be less likely to want to loan money to European nations from now on. If they will be required to take a massive haircuts at some point, then why in the world would they want to lend huge amounts of money to European governments at super low interest rates? It simply does not make sense. Now that Greece has defaulted, the whole game is going to change. This is just the beginning.

The "restructuring deal" was approved by approximately 84 percent of all Greek bondholders, but the key to triggering the payouts on the credit-default swaps was the fact that Greece decided to activate the "collective action clauses" which had been retroactively inserted into these bonds. These collective action clauses force most of the rest of the bondholders to go along with this restructuring deal.

A recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard explained why so many people were upset about these "collective action clauses"....

The Greek parliament's retroactive law last month to insert collective action clauses (CACs) into its bonds to coerce creditor hold-outs has added a fresh twist. These CAC's are likely to be activated over coming days. Use of retroactive laws to change contracts is anathema in credit markets.

If a government can go in and retroactively change the terms of a bond just before it is ready to default, then why should private investors invest in them?

That is a very good question.

But for now the buck has been passed on to those that issued the credit-default swaps. As mentioned above, the ISDA says that there are approximately $3.2 billion in Greek credit-default swaps that will need to be paid out.

However, that number assumes that a lot of hedges and offsetting swaps cancel each other out. When you just look at the raw total of swaps outstanding, the number is much, much higher. The following is from a recent article in The Huffington Post....

If you remove all hedges and offsetting swaps, there's about $70 billion in default-insurance exposure to Greece out there, which is a little bit bigger pill for the banking system to swallow. Is it possible that some banks won't be able to pay on their default policies? We'll find out.

Yes, indeed. We will find out very soon.

If some counterparties are unable to pay we could soon see some big problems cascade through the financial system.

But even with this new restructuring deal with private investors, Greece is still in really bad shape.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters recently that it "would be a big mistake to think we are out of the woods".

Even with this new deal, Greek debt is still projected to be only reduced to 120 percent of GDP by the year 2020. And that number relies on projections that are almost unbelievably optimistic.

In addition, there are still a whole host of very strict conditions that the Greek government must meet in order to continue getting bailout money.

Also, the upcoming Greek elections in just a few weeks could bring this entire process to an end in just a single day.

So the crisis in Greece is a long way from over.

The Greek economy has been in recession for five years in a row and it continues to shrink at a frightening pace. Greek GDP was 7.5 percent smaller during the 4th quarter of 2011 than it was during the 4th quarter of 2010.

Unemployment in Greece also continues to get worse.

The average unemployment rate in Greece in 2010 was 12.5 percent. During 2011, the average unemployment rate was 17.3 percent, and in December the unemployment rate in Greece was 21.0 percent.

Young people are getting hit the hardest. The youth unemployment rate in Greece is up to an all-time record of 51.1 percent.

The suicide rate in Greece is also at an all-time record high.

Unfortunately, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Greece at this point. The latest round of austerity measures that are now being implemented will slow the economy down even more.

Sadly, several other countries in Europe are going down the exact same road that Greece has gone.

Investors all over the globe are wondering which one will be the "next Greece".

Some believe that it will be Portugal. The following is from a recent article in The Telegraph....

"The rule of law has been treated with contempt," said Marc Ostwald from Monument Securities. "This will lead to litigation for the next ten years. It has become a massive impediment for long-term investors, and people will now be very wary about Portugal."

Right now, the combination of all public and private debt in Portugal comes to a grand total of 360 percent of GDP.

In Greece, the combined total of all public and private debt is about 100 percentage points less than that.

So yes, Portugal is heading for a world of hurt. The following is more about Portugal from the recent Telegraph article mentioned above....

Citigroup expects the economy to contract by 5.7pc this year, warning that bondholders may face a 50pc haircut by the end of the year. Portugal's €78bn loan package from the EU-IMF Troika is already large enough to crowd out private creditors, reducing them to ever more junior status.

So why should anyone invest in Portuguese debt at this point?

Or Italian debt?

Or Spanish debt?

Or any European debt at all?

The truth is that the European financial system is a house of cards that could come crashing down at any time.

German economist Hans-Werner Sinn is even convinced that the European Central Bank itself could collapse.

There is a Der Spiegel article that everyone out there should read. It is entitled "Euro-Zone Central Bank System Massively Imbalanced". It is quite technical, but if this German economist is correct, the implications are staggering.

The following is from the first paragraph of the article....

More than a year ago, German economist Hans-Werner Sinn discovered a gigantic risk on the balance sheets of Germany's central bank. Were the euro zone to collapse, Bundesbank losses could be half a trillion euros -- more than one-and-a-half times the size of the country's annual budget.

So no, the European debt crisis is not over.

It is just getting warmed up.

Get ready for a wild ride.

Poor America

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Years ago, who could have imagined the appalling growing poverty level in the world's richest country?

Various reports confirm it, including a new one by the University of Michigan's National Poverty Center (NPC), titled “Extreme Poverty in the United States, 1996 to 2011”.

NPC promotes multidisciplinary research on poverty and policy. It mentors and trains poverty researchers. It analyzes causes and consequences, and addresses pressing policy questions at both federal and state levels.

How is poverty calculated, it asked? The Census Bureau issues annual thresholds. They represent minimal income levels required to support various family sizes.

Its methodology dates from the mid-1960s and hasn't changed. Inflation's taken into account annually. Families are judged poor based on pretax income. Non-cash benefits aren't counted, such as Medicaid and food stamps.

In 2010, singles under 65 with incomes of $11,344 or less were designated poor. For those over 65, it was $10,458.

For single parents with one child, it's $15,030. With two children, it's $17,568. For two adults with no children, it's $14,602. With one child, it's $17,552. With two children, it's $22,113. With three children, it's $26,023.

Adjusted for inflation, current thresholds are slightly higher, but bear no relation to reality. Individuals and families need double or more these levels to avoid poverty. Moreover, jerry-rigged inflation numbers further distort cost of living effects on all households.

The Department of Health and Human Services has its own federal aid eligibility guidelines. They differ slightly from Census numbers, and reflect marginally higher Alaska and Hawaii thresholds.

NPC's H. Luke Shaefer and Harvard Kennedy School's Kathryn Edin studied how Clinton's 1996 welfare reform affected millions of poor Americans.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation ("welfare reform") Act (PRWORA) changed eligibility rules. From 1935 until then, needy households got welfare payments through Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). It protected states by sharing caseload costs during hard times.

Thereafter, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) set five year time limits. It gave states fixed block grants to administer at their own discretion. As a result, America's most needy face huge risks during economic downturns when reduced federal aid exacerbates dire conditions.

Under TANF, recipients must work or receive job training, even during hard times when employment's harder than ever to find. Moreover, single mothers with young children are grievously impacted. During their most formative years, children need them as caregivers.

With increasing austerity official federal policy, protracted harder than ever hard times are assured. Future NPC and other reports will reflect them.

For example, in 1994/1995, AFDC served 75% of impoverished families with children. In 2008-2009, it was 28%. The percentage varies by state. Some help fewer than 10% of impoverished families.

Moreover, when TANF was established, contingency fund assurances were given. That was then. Austerity demands little or none. The 2009 Recovery Act included TANF Emergency Fund aid. In September 2010, it wasn't renewed.

During today's dire economic times, budget strapped states force-feed harsh cuts. Vulnerable residents are harmed most, including families with children on TANF.

Moreover, its benefits are half or less poverty thresholds. Based on real inflation adjusted dollars, they've dropped precipitously since 1996.

In 2011, NPC estimates 1.46 million US households lived on $2 or less a day. It reflects a 130% increase from 636,000 in 1996. Around 2.8 million children live in extreme poverty. It represents 16% of all those impoverished.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits reduce, but don't eliminate extreme poverty. So-called reform, said NPC, "has been followed by a dramatic decline in case assistance caseloads."

They dropped from around 12.3 million 1996 monthly recipients to 4.4 million in June 2011. Adult beneficiaries comprise only 1.1 million.

As a result, millions of unemployed parents "have little access to means-tested income support programs." A new generation of poor resulted. They include "households with children living on virtually no income."

Children always are harmed most. Since November 2008, those affected increased dramatically at a time safety net protections are way inadequate and eroding.

Demographically, married couples comprised 37% of extreme poverty households. For single females, it's 51%.

About 48% of affected households are headed by White non-Hispanics, 25% by Blacks, and 22% by Hispanics. NPC added:

"Thus, extreme poverty is not limited to households headed by single mothers or disadvantaged minorities, though the percentage growth in extreme poverty over our study period was greatest among these groups."

It also said eroding social benefits are "leaving many households with children behind." They haven't enough resources to get by. TANF and other forced austerity bear most blame.

Given bipartisan agreement for additional deep cuts, America's most vulnerable more than ever are on their own out of luck because policy makers able to prevent it don't give a damn.

Cold hard truths reveal what they and complicit media scoundrels try hard to suppress. Growing impoverished millions reflect America's dark side.

Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?

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Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Australian political crisis exposes acute US-China tensions

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The installation of Bob Carr as Australian foreign minister last Friday has brought to the surface the fundamental issues that have underpinned the protracted crisis of the Labor government since Kevin Rudd was removed as prime minister in June 2010.

Throughout the high political drama of the past two weeks—the resignation of Rudd as foreign minister, his unsuccessful challenge for the Labor leadership against Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the extraordinary twists and turns of Carr’s appointment—the media commentary insisted that nothing was involved but personal rivalry.

In reality, the irresolvable dilemma confronting Australian capitalism—how to balance between its economic dependence on China and its military reliance on the US—was at the heart of the political conflict in 2010, and again in 2012.

A similar conundrum confronts governments throughout Asia and internationally, but it has erupted with particular explosive force in Canberra due to the particularities of the Australian geopolitical situation. No other G20 country is as heavily dependent on exports to China, chiefly minerals and energy. Nor is there a comparable nation as reliant on American backing to defend its strategic interests, in Australia’s case particularly in the South West Pacific.

Rudd was ousted and Gillard installed in mid-2010 in an overnight inner-party coup by a handful of powerful faction leaders with close ties to the US embassy and Washington. Along with key domestic issues, a critical factor in Rudd’s removal was the Obama administration’s hostility to his attempts to moderate rising tensions between the US and China.

Since mid-2009, the White House has waged a relentless diplomatic and strategic offensive to counter China’s influence throughout Asia. Rudd was by no means anti-American, but he cut across these moves by appealing for the US to accommodate Chinese interests.

Under Gillard, Australian foreign policy fell in behind Obama. The government provided the American president with a parliamentary platform last November to bluntly declare that “the United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay.” Gillard and Obama announced plans for the US military to make extensive use of Australian naval and air bases and to station US Marines in northern Australia.

None of the divisions wracking the Labor government could be candidly discussed, as it risked compromising relations with the US, China or both. Now, however, Carr’s previous comments criticising the Gillard-Obama deal and other aspects of US policy have provided the catalyst for a more public voicing of long-suppressed divisions, which cut through the entire political establishment.

Carr has been compelled to tone down the more colourful language on his blog and retract his criticisms of the NATO war on Libya, US sanctions against Iran and the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. But on the issue of US-China tensions, he has remained unrepentant.

Following Obama’s visit in November, Carr wrote on his blog: “It is patently in this country’s national interest to see in the Pacific a peaceful accommodation between the US and China… A treaty partner [to the US] we are, unapologetically, not an aircraft carrier.” He defended his views on ABC radio on Monday, declaring that “Australia’s security relationship with the United States does not mandate any notion of Australia being seen even to be engaged in a containment of China.”

Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop declared that Carr’s opinions were at odds with government policy. As Bishop is well aware, however, the divide on the US and China runs through her Liberal Party. In a speech last year, Malcolm Turnbull, who was ousted as party leader in late 2009, was critical of Obama’s stance toward China. “It makes no sense for America, or Australia, to base long-term strategic policy on the proposition that we are on an inevitable collision course with a militarily aggressive China,” he said.

Strategic analysts have also ventured into the public arena. Writing in the Age, Hugh White, an advocate of a US accommodation to China, welcomed Carr’s challenge to “the orthodox view that we have no choice but to support Washington in whatever policy it decides to adopt toward China.”

John Lee, who supports Obama’s hard-line stand, wrote in the Australian that Carr had to “beware of repeating Rudd’s errors on China.” He called for the abandonment of Rudd’s “flawed perception” that “a wise and fleet-footed Australia” was uniquely placed to act as “a bridge and arbiter” between the US and China.

These sharp divisions are the product of powerful objective forces generated by the historic decline of US imperialism and the emergence of China as the world’s pre-eminent cheap labour platform. China’s growing demand for energy and raw materials from the four corners of the globe bring it into conflict with the existing world order based on American pre-eminence. The Obama administration’s reckless thrust into Asia raises the real danger of a slide into war between two nuclear-armed powers.

Concerns over a US-China conflict are also reflected in Washington. In the latest issue of the influential magazine Foreign Affairs former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned that US-China trade conflicts could evolve into “competing adversarial power blocs.” Without a cooperative approach in the economic arena, he wrote, “barriers to progress on more emotional and less positive-sum issues, such as territory and security, may grow insurmountable.”

Kissinger appealed for cooperation and, in a manner similar to Rudd and White, called for a “Pacific Community” in “the hope that China and the United States can generate a sense of common purpose.” He added: “The key decision facing both Beijing and Washington is whether to move towards a genuine effort at cooperation or fall into a new version of historic patterns of international rivalry.”

What Kissinger had in mind, but did not specify, were the global catastrophes of the first half of the twentieth century—World Wars I and II. What drove those conflicts were powerful geopolitical rivalries and a deep crisis of capitalism that led inexorably to war. The global breakdown of capitalism today is opening up similar strategic fault lines, which find particularly acute expression in the political crisis that has erupted in Canberra.

The only social force able to prevent war is a unified revolutionary movement of the international working class to abolish the profit system and its reactionary division of the world into rival nation states

The US Elections And The Jobs Crisis

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The lack of any meaningful proposal by either major US political party to address mass unemployment in the 2012 election underscores the fact that the two big business parties have nothing to offer the unemployed and are indifferent to their plight.

Whenever politicians from either party speak of plans to “create jobs,” they mean only further deregulation, tax cuts, or outright cash handouts to corporations.

This fact given was vivid expression by the so-called “JOBS act,” which passed 390 to 23 in the House of Representatives Thursday after gaining the White House’s endorsement earlier in the week. This act, whose name is an acronym for “Jump-starting Our Business Startups,” is an attempt to palm off yet another corporate boondoggle as a measure to put people to work.

The act would exempt companies worth less than $50 million from regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, up from the current $5 million. It will likewise quadruple the number of shareholders a bank can have before having to register with the SEC.

The near-unanimous passage of the bill, as well as its endorsement by the White House, points to the eagerness of both parties to be seen by the American people as doing something about the chronic mass unemployment gripping the United States, while in fact they are doing the bidding of the same corporations that profit from high unemployment.

The White House moved to take responsibility for the Republican-backed measure, saying that many of its proposals came from Obama's Jobs Council, while congressional Democrats complained that portions of the act were from bills they sought to introduce themselves.

The equation of handouts to big business with “job creation,” once the stock in trade mainly of the Republican right, has become the common line of both parties. The Obama administration has been the quintessential expression of this shift, responding to the greatest crisis since the Great Depression with corporate handouts and tax cuts.

“[I]f you’re a CEO that’s willing to bring jobs back to America, we want to do everything we can to help you succeed,” Obama said Tuesday in an appearance before the Business Roundtable. “That means working together to reform our tax system... making sure that we are able to cut our tax rate.”

Along these lines, Obama is seeking to cut corporate taxes from 35 percent to 28 percent, with an even lower tax rate for manufacturing companies.

The response of the Democrats to the unemployment crisis is just one particular expression of the fact that they have taken over positions traditionally associated with the Republicans, leaving the latter scrambling to differentiate themselves.

The Democrats’ equation of corporate handouts with “job creation” has percolated to every level of government. Democratic New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled his $15 billion “New York Works” program, which he summed up, as “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” and which, according to him, is characterized by the introduction of “entrepreneurial government.”

The program would allow developers and contractors greater control over the building of state infrastructure, give rights for a casino builder to build the country's largest convention center in Queens, and amend the state constitution to expand the building of casinos.

Both political parties are agreed that the role of the government amid the highest postwar levels of unemployment is to induce corporations to hire by giving them ever-more lucrative incentives—tax breaks, deregulation and lower wages.

Words meant to evoke the program of Roosevelt’s New Deal—when “job creation” meant government spending on infrastructure based at least to some extent on social needs—are being used to mask the program of Herbert Hoover: handouts to corporations based on the false assertion that this will translate into hiring.

In the Orwellian world of American politics, any measure that boosts the profits of the corporations is called pro-jobs, while anything that hurts corporate earnings is labeled “job-killing.” Higher taxes on corporations, the enforcement of regulations against pollution, the prosecution of violations of securities laws or health and safety regulations—all are rejected as attacks on jobs.

This political climate sets the stage for a sweeping bipartisan assault on the living standards of working people. Last month the Obama administration and the Republicans reached a deal to cut the maximum duration of unemployment benefits from 99 weeks to 73 weeks in the hardest-hit states, and from 93 weeks to 63 weeks in many states.

This record underscores that no section of the Democratic Party in any way represents the interests of working people. What is necessary is a new political party, independent of the corporations and able to challenge the social interests of the super-rich.

US State Department Hands Terror-Cult US Base in Iraq

Unimaginable Treason at the Highest Levels of US Governance.

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In an unbelievable act of high treason and overt criminality, the US State Department, headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has finalized arrangements to move the US State Department-listed foreign terror organization, Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), into the former US military base "Camp Liberty' in Iraq.

Effectively turning the camp into a living monument of desecration to the memories of 6,000+ LinkUS troops killed over the last 10 years of the fraudulent "War on Terror," the US State Department is also appropriating US taxpayers' money to make upgrades to the camp to accommodate the terrorist organization. In Foreign Policy Magazine's article, "Are the MEK’s U.S. friends its worst enemies?," it is indicated that up to 3,000 terrorists are expected to move into the new site with the first two convoys already arriving at the camp over the last month.

: Rudy Giuliani consorting with MEK's political wing leader Maryam Rajavi in Paris, France. Giuliani is best known for his role playing a strong supporter for the "War on Terror" and his incessant fear mongering verses "Islamic extremists." In real life, he coddles listed terrorist organizations in direct violation of US law and even lobbies for them.

Amazingly, MEK's support base not only includes the US State Department, but also the United Nations, as well as a lobbying front including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Tom Ridge, John Lewis, Ed Rendell, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, retired General Wesley Clark, Lee Hamilton who farcically oversaw the 9/11 Commission, former US Marine Corps Commandant General James Jones, and Alan Dershowitz. There are also members of the British Parliament including David Amess of the Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, speaking on MEK's behalf.

It turns out that MEK's lobbying representatives are at odds with the US State Department and the United Nations, and would like to see MEK maintain their current base of operations at Iraq's Camp Ashraf instead of being moved to Camp Liberty where conditions are alleged to be "substandard." Their lobbying efforts include full page adds in national newspapers including the Washington Post and the New York Times, as well as attending conferences in Paris, France where MEK's political wing is based.

Image: Full-page treason - US politicians, many the most prominent proponents of the "War on Terror," appeal to the President of the United States to delist MEK as a terrorist organization. While hand-wringing humanitarian concerns are cited, what the ad fails to mention is that MEK has long been sought after to serve as an armed US-proxy to be turned on Iran and carry out a campaign of terror, as stated clearly in the Brookings Institution "Which Path to Persia?" report. (click image to enlarge)

MEK is a Listed Terror Organization for a Reason

MEK has carried out decades of brutal terrorist attacks, assassinations, and espionage against the Iranian government and its people, as well as targeting Americans including the attempted kidnapping of US Ambassador Douglas MacArthur II, the attempted assassination of USAF Brigadier General Harold Price, the successful assassination of Lieutenant Colonel Louis Lee Hawkins, the double assassinations of Colonel Paul Shaffer and Lieutenant Colonel Jack Turner, and the successful ambush and killing of American Rockwell International employees William Cottrell, Donald Smith, and Robert Krongard.

Admissions to the deaths of the Rockwell International employees can be found within a report written by former US State Department and Department of Defense official Lincoln Bloomfield Jr. on behalf of the lobbying firm Akin Gump in an attempt to dismiss concerns over MEK's violent past and how it connects to its current campaign of armed terror - a testament to the depths of depravity from which Washington and London lobbyists operate.

To this day MEK terrorists have been carrying out attacks inside of Iran killing political opponents, attacking civilian targets, as well as carrying out the US-Israeli program of targeting and assassinating Iranian scientists. MEK terrorists are also suspected of handling patsies in recent false flag operations carried out in India, Georgia, and Thailand, which have been ham-handedly blamed on the Iranian government.

MEK is described by Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Ray Takeyh as a "cult-like organization" with "totalitarian tendencies." While Takeyh fails to expand on what he meant by "cult-like" and "totalitarian," an interview with US State Department-run Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty reported that a MEK Camp Ashraf escapee claimed the terrorist organization bans marriage, using radios, the Internet, and holds many members against their will with the threat of death if ever they are caught attempting to escape.

US Has Been Supporting MEK for Years

This treason and overt criminality is not a recent turn of events. There are 3-4 years of documented collaboration between the United States and MEK, including an extensive conspiracy formulated within US policy think-tank Brookings Institution's 2009 "Which Path to Persia?" report, proposing to fully arm, train, and back MEK as it waged a campaign of armed terror against the Iranian people.

In their report, they openly conspire to use what is an admitted terrorist organization as a "US proxy" (emphasis added):

"Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.

In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.

Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.

Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations."

page 117-118 of "Which Path to Persia?" Brookings Institution, 2009
It was also revealed in Seymour Hersh's 2008 New Yorker article "Preparing the Battlefield," that not only had MEK been considered for their role as a possible proxy, but that the US had already begun arming and financing them to wage war inside Iran:
"The M.E.K. has been on the State Department’s terrorist list for more than a decade, yet in recent years the group has received arms and intelligence, directly or indirectly, from the United States. Some of the newly authorized covert funds, the Pentagon consultant told me, may well end up in M.E.K. coffers. “The new task force will work with the M.E.K. The Administration is desperate for results.” He added, “The M.E.K. has no C.P.A. auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining their pockets for years. If people only knew what the M.E.K. is getting, and how much is going to its bank accounts—and yet it is almost useless for the purposes the Administration intends.”
Seymore Hersh in an NPR interview, also claims that select MEK members have already received training in the US.

More recently, the British Daily Mail published a stunning admission by "US officials" that Israel is currently funding, training, arming, and working directly with MEK. The Daily Mail article states, "U.S. officials confirmed today that Israel has been funding and training Iranian dissidents to assassinate nuclear scientists involved in Iran's nuclear program." The article continues by claiming, "Washington insiders confirmed there is a close relationship between Mossad and MEK."

"Legal Ramifications" of US Leadership's aiding and abetting MEK

The US State Department's own website features a list of designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) upon which MEK is clearly listed. Toward the bottom of the page, the State Department indicates the "Legal Ramifications of [its] Designation" as follows:

1. It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO. (The term "material support or resources" is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(1) as " any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes “the term ‘training’ means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for these purposes the term ‘expert advice or assistance’ means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.’’

2. Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumstances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. §§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)(i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)).

3. Any U.S. financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Image: A screenshot from the US State Department's website showing MEK listed as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization" and listed as "29. Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK)." Paradoxically the US State Department is currently aiding and abetting the organization, with its efforts, along with the UN, British and Israeli government's, being the sole factor keeping the organization in existence. (click on image to enlarge)

Quite clearly, MEK's collaborators within the US State Department, the United Nations, the Israeli government, and throughout MEK's lobbying front, including both prominent US and British leaders, are blatantly guilty of violating multiple sections of US code implicating a vast array of serious charges and punitive actions including jail sentences of between 15 years to life, that now need to be pursued with due diligence.

What it Really Means and What We Must Do

Unfortunately, such criminality operating at the highest levels of US governance is likely to result in absolutely nothing being done. Already, and for years, these perpetrators have supported a listed terrorist organization with both US and Iranian military, diplomatic, and civilian blood on its hands, and they will likely continue to do so, along with Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) militants operating with full NATO support in Libya and now Syria, as well as Baluchistan terrorists supported in terrorist operations against both the Iranian and Pakistani governments.

What Americans are left with is irrefutable evidence that the "War on Terror" is a fraud - where anti-terrorism laws, designations, and counter-terrorism operations around the world are merely observed and selectively enforced for the convenience of perpetuating a clandestine, insidious self-serving political agenda that transcends presidencies and party lines and feeds American lives and trillions of American taxpayer dollars into the ever-consuming maw of this contrived "clash of civilizations."

What can be done, is the identifying and exposing of the corporate-financier interests driving this agenda, the systematic boycotting and replacement of these interests with local solutions, and other grassroots efforts (food sovereignty, Oath Keepers, Constitutional sheriffs) to remove the federal and corporate parasitic proboscis that feeds on Americans to fuel an increasingly Neroesque degenerate ruling elite.

We have created this monstrosity by feeding it our paychecks, time, and attention as subsistence - we can slay it by simply denying it this subsistence.

What America Lost When Dennis Kucinich Lost

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Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a two-time presidential candidate who for the past decade has been the most consistent critic of war and militarism in the US House of Representatives, was defeated Tuesday in a Democratic primary that pitted him against fellow progressive Marcy Kaptur.

Kucinich was the first electoral victim of the current round of redistricting, which saw congressional districts redrawn in states across the country after the 2010 Census. A Republican governor and legislature carved up northern Ohio districts with an eye toward eliminating at least one Democratic seat, and they achieved their goal by forcing Kucinich and Kaptur into the same district.

That district favored Kaptur and, after a hard-fought race she prevailed by a fifty-six to thirty-nine margin, with the remainder going to a third candidate.

Though the race in Ohio’s 9th District received scant attention compared with the Republican presidential contest in the state, the result will have national consequences.

A Congress without Dennis Kucinich will be a lesser branch. It’s not just that the loss of the former leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will rob the House of its most consistent critic of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and one its steadiest critics of corporate power.

Since he arrived on the Hill in 1997, Kucinich has been one of a handful of absolutely engaged members. When issues have arisen, be it domestic or international, low profile or high, Kucinich has been at the ready—often with the first statement, the strongest demand and the boldest plan.

A master of parliamentary procedure, and a Constitutional purist, Kucinich has given Democratic and Republican congressional leaders their share of headaches. And he has been more than willing to break with Democratic and Republican presidents on matters of principle. But even as he frustrated the most powerful players in Washington, Kucinich won an enthusiastic base of supporters who backed him for the Democratic presidential nominations in 2004 and 2008.

Though he never got near the nomination in either year, Kucinich earned high marks for forcing the other contenders to address fundamental issues of war and peace, civil liberties and trade policy. At the same time, he remained sufficiently in touch with his blue-collar Cleveland-area district—turf that had previously elected a Republican—to keep his seat in the face of primary and general election challenges from candidate backed by the political and media elites that had been after Kucinich since his days as the uncompromising “boy mayor” of Cleveland.

Had his district remained intact, Kucinich would have won Tuesday’s primary. But the 2010 election put Republican Governor John Kasich and his conservative allies in charge of the Ohio redistricting process. With encouragement from House Speaker John Boehner, they targeted Kucinich from the start. Everyone knew Kucinich was threatened, and the congressman even entertained the prospect of moving to Washington state, where he has long been a favorite of progressive activists and where population shifts had created an open seat that might be friendly to his ambitions.

Ultimately, however, Kucinich opted for a race in a redrawn Ohio district that included portions of his Cleveland base. The district also included Toledo, the home of Congresswomen Kaptur, a Democrat with whom Kucinich had frequently allied over the years.

Kucinich and Kaptur have both served in Congress as outsiders, members of the Progressive Caucus, with records of opposing wars, free-trade deals and economic policies that favor the 1 percent over the 99 percent. Both have 95 percent AFL-CIO records. Both have 100 percent ACLU records.

There were, to be sure, distinctions. Kucinich, who for many years voted with opponents of reproductive rights, switched his position before the 2004 presidential election and ran this year as the more socially liberal contender. Kaptur, the longest serving woman in the House and a champion of many feminist causes, was ranked as a “mixed choice” by NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Kucinich was always the purest anti-war champion, and he made a point of highlighting that in the race with Kaptur, a ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, who the Cleveland congressman argued should have done much more to cut the Pentagon budget.

But Kaptur, who came to national prominence as an outspoken foe of the 2008 bank bailout, emerged as a national hero of union and community activists who shared her determination to “bust the banksters.” She was a star of the film Capitalism, a Love Story, in which she told filmmaker Michael Moore that the 2008 bailout was a “a financial coup d’├ętat.”

Kaptur’s boldness in opposing the big banks and Wall Street, as well as her passionate advocacy on behalf organized labor, would have been missed, as well, in a Congress that needs all the economic populists it can get.

But losing Kucinich will be hard. In some of the toughest days for the American experiment as a Republican administration plotted to wage a war of whim in Iraq, Democratic “leaders” stood down. It was Dennis Kucinich who spoke up for peace and who kept speaking up with a determination that gave hope to activists across the United States and around the world.

The Republican mapmakers in Ohio may have drawn Dennis Kucinich out of his district, and out of Congress. But they will not draw him out of the history of these times. Indeed, when the story of America in the first years of the 21st century is told, Dennis Kucinich will be remembered as the rare member of Congress who opposed wars that could not be justified, who defended rights that could not be surrendered, who demanded accountability from the presidents and vice presidents who could not be allowed to have their way with the republic.

Bill would create partnership between NSA and corporations

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Speaking at a policy debate Wednesday at The Heritage Foundation, a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that a bill currently being considered by the House Select Committee on Intelligence would intertwine the National Security Agency (NSA) with corporate America, exposing vast amounts of private civilian data to unprecedented levels of monitoring, all in the name of “cybersecurity.”

H.R. 3523, introduced last year by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), purports to help safeguard American corporations from espionage and cyber crime by allowing the NSA and other federal spy agencies to work directly with large corporate players, funneling them classified information on threat assessments to enable companies to defend themselves.

While the bill is openly supported by companies like AT&T, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Facebook, Boeing and Intel, ACLU legislative counsel Michelle Richardson cautioned Wednesday that it is not something to be taken up lightly.

“[The Rogers bill] will encourage companies to share personal and private data with the government,” she said. “And then with very little oversight, allow the information to be used in a number of different ways.”

“If you put the government int he middle of an information sharing scheme, it is absolutely critical that you clarify that it must be run by a civilian agency,” Richardson added. “One of our biggest criticisms of the Rogers bill is that they either explicitly say information should go to the National Security Agency and Cyber Command, or they’re otherwise silent and allow companies to choose where they want to send information, including to these different military facilities.”

Rogers contended that the NSA is full of “brilliant” people who “spend their day trying to figure out what the bad guys are doing to people, and what potential bad things are out there that we ought to be looking for.”

“Imagine how much stronger [U.S. corporations] would be if we let them know what the enemies are up to, and allowed them to see it in a very classified way, so that they can apply that knowledge to their networks and protect that network,” he added.

While it may sound good to some, Richardson countered that Rogers’ plan breaks with American tradition by explicitly using a military organization for domestic purposes.

“It’s a longstanding American value that the military does not operate on U.S. soil, and that’s what we’re really talking about here with these cyber security programs: domestic, civilian Internet use,” she said. “It is wholly inappropriate to have the military at the center of receiving, processing and distributing that information.”

Richardson also stressed that should Congress commit to using the government as an information sharing apparatus for corporate America, it must very narrowly define how information is shared and limit exceptions to privacy laws to extraordinary circumstances only.

The ACLU also recommended in a letter published in December that Congress take special care to require that all personally identifiable information be removed from information shared with its cyber command, to protect against the potential for abuse. They also asked for an oversight structure that produces regular public reports on the program.

“We’re very happy to see that the Obama Administration agrees, and they’ve spent the last several years making sure that these sorts of civilian domestic cyber security operations are going through [the Department of Homeland Security] and not the NSA,” Richardson said.

Attorney General Holder Says Murder of US Citizens is Legal

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Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday explained why it's legal to murder people -- not to execute prisoners convicted of capital crimes, not to shoot someone in self-defense, not to fight on a battlefield in a war that is somehow legalized, but to target and kill an individual sitting on his sofa, with no charges, no arrest, no trial, no approval from a court, no approval from a legislature, no approval from we the people, and in fact no sharing of information with any institutions that are not the president. Holder's speech approached his topic in a round about manner:

"Since this country’s earliest days, the American people have risen to this challenge – and all that it demands. But, as we have seen – and as President John F. Kennedy may have described best – 'In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.'"

Holder quotes that and then immediately rejects it, claiming that our generation too should act as if it is in such a moment, even if it isn't, a moment that Holder's position suggests may last forever:

"Half a century has passed since those words were spoken, but our nation today confronts grave national security threats that demand our constant attention and steadfast commitment. It is clear that, once again, we have reached an 'hour of danger.'

"We are a nation at war. And, in this war, we face a nimble and determined enemy that cannot be underestimated."

So, if I were to estimate that Al Qaeda barely exists and is no serious threat to the Homeland formerly known as the United States, I would not be underestimating it? If I were to point out that no member of that horrifying outfit has been killed in Afghanistan this year, that fact would not contribute to an unacceptable underestimation? What fun it is to fight the most glorious of wars in the hour of maximum danger against an enemy so pitiful that it literally cannot be underestimated.

If the people of Iraq and Afghanistan hadn't risen up and defeated the trillion-dollar U.S. military with some homemade bombs and cell phones, and were Iran not threatening to fight back if attacked, this might be all fun and games. Except that Holder isn't talking about those wars that still sort of look like wars. He's talking about a war paralleling the Soviet Threat, a war that is everywhere all the time, a war that encompasses the murder of anybody anywhere as an "act of war," even if there's nothing warlike about the victim or the situation other than the fact that we are mudering him or her.

"I know that – more than a decade after the September 11th attacks; and despite our recent national security successes, including the operation that brought to justice Osama bin Laden last year – there are people currently plotting to murder Americans, who reside in distant countries as well as within our own borders. Disrupting and preventing these plots – and using every available and appropriate tool to keep the American people safe – has been, and will remain, this Administration’s top priority."

Osama bin Laden was murdered. No attempt was made to capture him. You can defend that murder, but to call it "bringing to justice" and to get away with that characterization is to win the argument before you've begun it. This speech was advertised as a legal defense of such murders, and such a defense can hardly begin and end with equating murder with justice.

Nor can promising not to spy on U.S. citizens without proper procedures satisfy concerns with the claiming of power to kill people, including U.S. citizens. Here's Holder:

"Let me give you an example. Under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence may authorize annually, with the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, collection directed at identified categories of foreign intelligence targets, without the need for a court order for each individual subject. This ensures that the government has the flexibility and agility it needs to identify and to respond to terrorist and other foreign threats to our security. But the government may not use this authority intentionally to target a U.S. person, here or abroad, or anyone known to be in the United States."

Nor can promising to imprison people without a fair trial justify murdering people. But Holder does not do that. He promises kangaroo courts:

"Much has been made of the distinction between our federal civilian courts and revised military commissions. The reality is that both incorporate fundamental due process and other protections that are essential to the effective administration of justice – and we should not deprive ourselves of any tool in our fight against al Qaeda."

Even though al Qaeda cannot be underestimated! Most legal obeservers do not take this seriously for a minute. Here's 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama: "As president, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists ... Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary." Go Team!

Holder then explains, sensibly enough, why non-military courts work just fine (unless an extreme record of nearly 100% convictions worries you):

"Simply put, since 9/11, hundreds of individuals have been convicted of terrorism or terrorism-related offenses in Article III courts and are now serving long sentences in federal prison. Not one has ever escaped custody. No judicial district has suffered any kind of retaliatory attack."

But he returns immediately to defending courts that lack basic protections, claims those protections have now been put in place, and asserts that military commissions have been successfully reformed. Among those who have not been convinced is the former chief prosecutor of the military commissions at Guantanamo, Col. Morris Davis who said in November: "a decision to use both legal settings is a mistake. It will establish a dangerous legal double standard that gives some detainees superior rights and protections, and relegates others to the inferior rights and protections of military commissions. This will only perpetuate the perception that Guantanamo and justice are mutually exclusive." Of course the question of how bad military commissions are also does nothing to advance a case for legal murder.

Holder turns next to the presidential power to imprison people that was signed into law on New Year's Eve as part of the National "Defense" Authorization Act:

"This Administration has worked in other areas as well to ensure that counterterrorism professionals have the flexibility that they need to fulfill their critical responsibilities without diverging from our laws and our values. Last week brought the most recent step, when the President issued procedures under the National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation, which Congress passed in December, mandated that a narrow category of al Qaeda terrorist suspects be placed in temporary military custody."

This legislation did nothing of the sort. For one thing, Obama unconstitutionally altered it in a signing statement as it applied to a huge prison full of largely non-al Qaeda prisoners in Afghanistan. In addition, there has been quite a bit of discussion of the power this bill creates to imprison U.S. citizens. The State of Virginia has forbidden state employees from assisting with that. Senator Diane Feinstein has introduced a bill to undo it. And, despite tremendous, often willful, confusion, the history is clear that Obama insisted on the power to imprison U.S. citizens and to do so outside of the military.

Three quarters of the way through a speech on the legality of murdering people, Holder begins to approach that touchy topic. Here is what he says:

"Now, I realize I have gone into considerable detail about tools we use to identify suspected terrorists and to bring captured terrorists to justice. It is preferable to capture suspected terrorists where feasible – among other reasons, so that we can gather valuable intelligence from them – but we must also recognize that there are instances where our government has the clear authority – and, I would argue, the responsibility – to defend the United States through the appropriate and lawful use of lethal force."

By "government" Holder means the president, whether President Obama or President Romney or President Santorum or any man or woman who later becomes president, and nobody else. That one person alone is to decide what is appropriate and lawful and feasible. If the Vice President thinks it is feasible to capture somene, too bad for him. He should have gotten a better job if he wanted to be a decider. If the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court thinks preaching against the United States is not a capital offense, tough tamales. He shouldn't dress in his bathrobe if he wants to be taken seriously. If the United States Congress objects that the president's "surgical strikes" tend to kill too many random men, women, and children, well they know what they can do: Run for president! If the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings has objections, well -- Isn't that SPECIAL? And the American people? They can shut up or vote for a racist buffoon from the bad party. Holder continues:

"This principle has long been established under both U.S. and international law. In response to the attacks perpetrated – and the continuing threat posed – by al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces, Congress has authorized the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against those groups. Because the United States is in an armed conflict, we are authorized to take action against enemy belligerents under international law. The Constitution empowers the President to protect the nation from any imminent threat of violent attack. And international law recognizes the inherent right of national self-defense. None of this is changed by the fact that we are not in a conventional war."

In reality, the 2001 authorization to use military force violates the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the UN Charter, and the U.S. Constitution. It dates to only 10 years ago. And it is already getting old, as it is becoming harder and harder to accuse people of involvement in the attacks of September 11, 2001. No international law recognizes secret global war without limitation in time or space. There is no long established tradition of this madness. There has never been any type of violence that somebody wouldn't call "defensive," but the traditional right to national military defense applies only to nations being attacked by other nations, and not in a mystical or ideological sense, but actually attacked in the geographic area formerly known as the nation. Holder says that's old hat:

"Our legal authority is not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan. Indeed, neither Congress nor our federal courts has limited the geographic scope of our ability to use force to the current conflict in Afghanistan. We are at war with a stateless enemy, prone to shifting operations from country to country. Over the last three years alone, al Qaeda and its associates have directed several attacks – fortunately, unsuccessful – against us from countries other than Afghanistan. Our government has both a responsibility and a right to protect this nation and its people from such threats."

Several attacks? Against the United States? In the last three years? By al Qaeda and its associates? If Holder had been willing to take any questions after tossing out so many topics, someone might have asked for documentation of this. And if people, as opposed to media employees, had been allowed to ask questions, someone might have inquired how whatever actions Holder described were war rather than crime. If war, then they ought to be legal. Holder just said that attacks are legal if you're at war. But he also said he only wanted to kill people if they couldn't be captured, and he prefaced this with claims that everybody captured gets a fair trial. That would seem to suggest a crime for which they might be tried. But then why not try them for the crime in absentia and build pressure for their capture and extradition? Why not at least state what the crime is, even after murdering them? Why not at least state which murdered people were criminals and which just happened to be in the wrong place, unaware that they happened to be walking through a war?

Holder goes on to explain that the president will only murder someone in a foreign country if he's decided that that country won't do it for him. This, Holder says, constitutes "respect for another nation’s sovereignty."

Moreover, says Holder, we murdered important Japanese officers during World War II. Of course, the United States was at war with Japan at the time, and Congress had declared that war. The United States also committed numerous hideous crimes during that war, including the lawless imprisonment of Japanese-Americans that created the laws Holder tossed out during the first part of his speech. Holder explains that murder is not assassination when the president does it, because he only murders people he declares to constitute an imminent threat:

"Some have called such operations 'assassinations.' They are not, and the use of that loaded term is misplaced. Assassinations are unlawful killings. Here, for the reasons I have given, the U.S. government’s use of lethal force in self defense against a leader of al Qaeda or an associated force who presents an imminent threat of violent attack would not be unlawful — and therefore would not violate the Executive Order banning assassination or criminal statutes."

But Obama has not so much as claimed that each person he killed constituted an imminent threat, much less convinced any independent body (sorry, Eric, you don't count) of this.

I think the speech could have ended there. But many in the United States believe such flimsy justifications for presidential killings only fall apart when U.S. citizens are the victims. So, Holder goes on to argue that U.S. citizens are fair game. The protest of this outrage, were Obama a Republican, is one for the record books in some alternative universe!

"Now, it is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that some of the threats we face come from a small number of United States citizens who have decided to commit violent attacks against their own country from abroad. Based on generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions handed down during World War II, as well as during this current conflict, it’s clear that United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted. But it does mean that the government must take into account all relevant constitutional considerations with respect to United States citizens – even those who are leading efforts to kill innocent Americans. Of these, the most relevant is the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which says that the government may not deprive a citizen of his or her life without due process of law.

"The Supreme Court has made clear that the Due Process Clause does not impose one-size-fits-all requirements, but instead mandates procedural safeguards that depend on specific circumstances. In cases arising under the Due Process Clause – including in a case involving a U.S. citizen captured in the conflict against al Qaeda – the Court has applied a balancing approach, weighing the private interest that will be affected against the interest the government is trying to protect, and the burdens the government would face in providing additional process. Where national security operations are at stake, due process takes into account the realities of combat. . . .

"Let me be clear: an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances: First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles."

How are we supposed to know that Awlaki was a senior opeational leader of al Qaeda? And his teenage son? Was he that too? By "government" Holder means Obama. Obama determined these things.

"The evaluation of whether an individual presents an 'imminent threat' incorporates considerations of the relevant window of opportunity to act, the possible harm that missing the window would cause to civilians, and the likelihood of heading off future disastrous attacks against the United States. As we learned on 9/11, al Qaeda has demonstrated the ability to strike with little or no notice – and to cause devastating casualties. Its leaders are continually planning attacks against the United States, and they do not behave like a traditional military – wearing uniforms, carrying arms openly, or massing forces in preparation for an attack. Given these facts, the Constitution does not require the President to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning – when the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear. Such a requirement would create an unacceptably high risk that our efforts would fail, and that Americans would be killed."

The Constitution doesn't describe this sort of madness at all, so how could it possibly include such a requirement? The appeal to "defensive war" cited by Holder above itself requires more than awaiting the moment an attack becomes clear. It requires awaiting an actual attack. Law enforcement does not require that. Diplomacy does not require that. Ceasing to occupy, bomb, and pillage people's countries, motivating hostile terrorism, doesn't require that. But defensive war does.

"Some have argued that the President is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. 'Due process' and 'judicial process' are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process."

The president alone can give you due process without ever explaining it to anybody else. Who knew?

"That is not to say that the Executive Branch has – or should ever have – the ability to target any such individuals without robust oversight. Which is why, in keeping with the law and our constitutional system of checks and balances, the Executive Branch regularly informs the appropriate members of Congress about our counterterrorism activities, including the legal framework, and would of course follow the same practice where lethal force is used against United States citizens."

Why "would"? This is not theoretical. Informing a handful of Congress members, and no doubt forbidding them to repeat what they are told, does not create Congressional oversight. It just creates a Bush-era excuse for lawlessness.

Holder planned to take no questions following his remarks. I wonder why.