Links, 7/27/11

Apparently, the ducks that live in the Grand River think we should “Give peace a chance.” McCaffrey the MilleniaLab and I saw this on our walk this morning.

Justice and Injustice

All my complaints that DOJ won’t indict banksters? Well, they won’t indict American banksters. They did, however, indict a handfull of Credit Suisse banksters last week for helping Americans shield their loot from taxes.

Victory for Joe Nocera! Apparently DOJ has now revealed it is investigating Wells Fargo for the criminal discrimination alleged in the Fed settlement it signed last week. Note, however, that all this appears to be headed for yet another settlement; can we please have a criminal prosecution, DOJ?

Our National Security State

Both Jason’s story on the Air Force using the New Testament and the comments of Wernher Von Braun to teach missile officers the ethics of nuclear war, and Spencer’s story on the FBI using Orientalist trash to teach agents on Islamic culture are nauseating by themselves. But read together, they say our national security establishment propagates the ideology of Crusade in our fight against terrorism. Here’s the Air Force and the FBI PowerPoints used to spew such propaganda; it’s nice to see we’ve got our propaganda bureaucratized on PowerPoint.

The US forced a Mexican flight to stop short of US airspace because a human rights activist, Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar, was on the flight. This is at least the third human rights activist the government has tried to keep out of–or even away from–this country.

Claiming (falsely) that there’s no evidence that Anders Behring Breivik is linked to U.S. groups, Peter King has refused Democratic requests that he expand his terror hearings to include the far right. Of course, given that the US rightwinger inspired Breivik, rather than the reverse, this is consistent with King’s earlier support for US-sponsored terrorism in Ireland. I guess for King, terrorism is okay so long as the US exports it.

The CIA says the Russians bombed our embassy in Georgia last September. Congress wants to suggest that means Russia can’t be trusted with a defense agreement. I don’t remember them saying that when we bombed the Chinese embassy in Serbia.

In a post deservedly taking a victory lap for his case that the secret PATRIOT powers relate to geolocation, Julian Sanchez notes a change in Ron Wyden’s legislation designed to limit the government’s use of geolocation. Whereas it used to modify FISA, it now includes an exception to permit geolocation. It seems–though this is just a guess–that the bill is now trying to force the government to use a higher standard before using geolocation.

As part of its effort to raise attention to DOJ’s new investigative guidelines, the Brennan Center has fact checked the claims DOJ officials made before the last round of DIOG changes, finding that they misled what those changes would entail as they were trying to gain support for them.

NSA made a big deal out of declassifying a 200-year old document on cryptography. Only, the document was never classified, and has been available in digital format for several years.

It looks like DOJ is using its relaxed approach to Miranda with white alleged terrorists, too, in this case with the accused MLK Day bomber. They’re just lucky this isn’t going to endanger their prosecution here. (h/t scribe)

Our Dying Economy

Shorter Stephen Roach: By using the myth of bond vigilantes to create an unnecessary debt ceiling crisis, we have pushed China to become bond vigilantes.

Free for All

Reasons why my brain is probably shrinking: years of acute back pain, Internet–uh–enjoyment, and chronic insomnia. (I consider my wine drinking to wash out with my beer drinking.) Reasons why my brain is not shrinking: meat, lots of sunlight, no more pot-smoking, very lapsed Catholicism.

61 replies
  1. scribe says:

    You note:

    “Shorter Stephen Roach: By using the myth of bond vigilantes to create an unnecessary debt ceiling crisis, we have pushed China to become bond vigilantes.”


    That was the whole point of the exercise. Bond traders can’t make any money when yields asymptotically approach zero.

  2. rugger9 says:

    The Chinese embassy in Serbia was found to be the source of targeting information for Milosevic’s activities in Bosnia, that’s why the “accidental” bombing and the lack of follow-up by the Chinese. We had them on that one.

  3. EoH says:

    Indicting foreign but not American banksters is called pissing on the competition. It’s an accurate but impolite description of what courtiers do.

  4. EoH says:

    The Air Force has always played Avis to the Army and Navy’s Hertz: it’s been playing macho catch up since it was formed as an offshoot of the Army and had to keep justifying its ever expanding budget for new toys.

    Colorado Springs, less than 100 miles south of Denver – its cultural opposite, the People’s Republic of Boulder is 30 miles north – is home to both the US Air Force Academy, Pike’s Peak and more fundamentalists than you can fit on the head of a pin. It routinely considers seceding, as they consider other fundamentalists insufficiently zealous in touting the one true religion and its white Aryan, blond, blue-eyed peasant village Jew sacrificial lamb.

    The AA has long had a problem injecting fundamentalist religion into the pilot seat and silo. Repeated investigations, along with those of rampant sex discrimination, have documented a problem the Air Force’s macho-catchup culture cannot wrestle with without mud and beer.

  5. rugger9 says:

    @emptywheel: I’m sure there was, as Georgia was our ally, anointed by Darth himself, and a NATO wannabe. The Chinese in their case were pretending to be completely and totally uninvolved yet the signals kept coming from there tied to stuff Milo did. There was no alliance at the time between Milo and the Chinese that was announced or understood. Otherwise, that would have been a casus belli to get Milo with or without the embassy getting hit.

  6. rugger9 says:

    @emptywheel: Our input from the Georgian embassy was probably no different than the help we gave the Brits during the Falklands war. If the Chinese had the level of agreement we had with the UK WRT Milo, they would have been expected to do something in Yugoslavia or the UN as a veto to prevent the action in the first place.

  7. Desider says:

    @rugger9: There were people reporting all the stuff the Chinese/Serbs were dragging out the back of the embassy as they were assembling the outrage presentation in the front.

    Yeah, we didn’t publicly push the issue that China was running electronic communications for Milosevic, and let them have their save face moment, but it was as good as downing an electronics surveillance plane over Hunan and shipping it back in pieces.

  8. rugger9 says:

    The other notes worth remembering on the US embassy in Georgia: the sources of information are John Kyl leaking and the Moonie Times publishing. Not the best for veracity on either count. Second, the reason the Russians left Georgia is that the USA made it clear they couldn’t stay, and let’s not forget that the Georgians precipitated that crisis by poking the Russians in South Ossetia/Chechnya area, a very hot-button issue for Putin, Inc. The fact the Georgians started it (and Faux as I recall tried to push us along into joining it) is why the USA stayed out of the mess.

    On other topics, Peter King is a jackass, and will do this as long as he has the gavel, facts be damned. He needs to be ignored, like Buchanan needs to be removed from the air. If MSNBC puts him on again (and any other network for that matter) they need to be boycotted.

  9. Garrett says:

    About this story:

    On two occasions, James Murdoch and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks were given confidential defence briefings on Afghanistan and Britain’s strategic defence review by the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox. A further briefing was held with Ms Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and the Sunday Times editor John Witherow.

    Murdochs were given secret defence briefings (Independent)

    Pressure on Mr. Osborne mounted Tuesday as details of his extensive meetings with the Murdochs and leaders of the News Corporation’s British subsidiary, News International, were released.

    Meetings Indicate British Officials’ Links to Murdochs (NYT)

    If anyone knows where the list of meetings was posted, please say so?

  10. lysias says:


    Just what was Milosevic targeting in Bosnia in 1999 (the year we bombed the Chinese embassy)? For that matter, I’m not sure what he would have been targeting in Kosovo (where what fighting there was was going on.) We were doing targeting bombing Serbia and Kosovo.

  11. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: After reading through this latest OLC opinion, one certainly has to wonder just who the government person was/is that was both targeted for FISA surveillance and then the subject of a Access Review Committee process for revoking that person’s security clearance.

  12. Jim White says:

    @MadDog: I haven’t read the opinion, but from the description my first guesses would be Jeffrey Sterling (Risen’s source) or Thomas Tamm (FISA whistleblower).

  13. tinao says:

    Whoooaaa..OT Anyone catch Liz Coleman’s Call to Reinvent Liberal Arts Education? I saw it on DirectTV, Link Channel’s TED Talks. Heartening…very heartening!

  14. MadDog says:

    @Jim White: No, I don’t think so on either Sterling or Tamm.

    The way the opinion reads makes me think that it was way more recent (like January of this year), and that the person not only lost his/her security clearance but was also fired.

    Sterling is out since he left the CIA almost 10 years ago. Tamm is also likely out since he left the DOJ in 2006.

    Lastly, and I can’t overemphasize this, the way this OLC opinion reads, it sure seems like the government employee was specifically targeted under FISA for surveillance.

    Targeted! Not just incidentally swept up in some FISA surveillance, but fookin’ targeted!

    What I’m saying here is that the Feds had to go before the FISA Court with an pretty damn strong case to convince the FISA judge(s) to give them a FISA warrant and put an American, and an existing government employee, and one with a security clearance, under FISA surveillance.

    Ask yourself the question of how often that has ever happened.

  15. rugger9 says:

    @lysias: The coalition response regarding Srebenica, etc., we were in country on a humanitarian mission, the GOP threatened another impeachment.

  16. rugger9 says:

    Not so sure about that, only 5 or so amended out of the 19000 or so requested. It’s one of the reasons why the warrantless wiretapping talking point about slow responses was so full of s^%$^%, the other being that tapping could occur for 72 hours prior to getting said warrant. The Bushies forced retroactive immunity for the telecoms for allowing this activity.

  17. emptywheel says:

    @MadDog: Isn’t it January of last year? The Request for opinion was dated January 26, 2010.

    Still, neither Tamm nor Sterling. When did they catch the guy leaking to North Korea?

  18. rugger9 says:

    I’m almost certain now that the Tory government coalition will fall, and it is possible (depending upon the timeline of meetings) that the Labour opposition will fail as well to coalition with the LibDems. Note however that Miliband the younger is not as affected as his elder bro in terms of contamination, and he’s the party leader making a name for himself on this topic.

    I see a no confidence vote pretty soon, and possibly a LibDem government in the ensuing election. There is NO reason that Murdoch, Inc. should be briefed on anything secret. That kind of formal and critical stuff given to the scandal-mongering operation is a prime example of poor judgement and/or treason.

  19. emptywheel says:

    @MadDog: I’m also wondering what kind of surveillance it was.

    First, consider that Krass doesnt’ ultimately say, “you don’t have to inform them,” she just says, “could be a constitutional problem.”

    But what are teh circumstances in which a DOJ employee would not know, in general, of a FISA surveillance type? That is, that it couldn’t be disclosed bc it would reveal stuff protected by–and note what they call this–executive privilege.

    Well, one possibility is if it’s a relatively new application–like the geolocation they’re doing.

    Now note the date on this: the request was submitted (to Barron) in January 2010. It wasn’t completed until June 3, 2011, which is itself 10 months after the last input given on this (the AUgust 9, 2010 Caproni memo, I think).

    Now consider how that date might correlate w/Wyden et al complaints about the use of PATRIOT to do this geolocation. One of the things they were asking for was OLC opinions to back the usage. Is it possible that Krass–she of the two Libya memos–quickly put this together to give cover for someone getting fired based on geolocation information?

  20. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: Hmmm…interesting. I hadn’t considered the geolocation possibility.

    And yes, that Executive Privilege assertion kind of sneaks right up on you. Is this something that John Brennan ordered out of the White House to track a leak?

    I must say that the more I think about this particular OLC opinion, the stranger my thoughts get.

    Ask yourself why would the OLC release this particular opinion when their habit is not to release any at all unless either under duress or because the opinion is pushing a policy point.

    Are they sending message with this particular opinion?

  21. P J Evans says:

    It would be nice if, instead of persecuting prosecuting whistleblowers, they prosecuted the people on whom the whistle was being blown.
    I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future, thanks to Mr Look-forward-not-back and the Cheney leftbehinds all over DC.

  22. prostratedragon says:


    There is NO reason that Murdoch, Inc. should be briefed on anything secret. That kind of formal and critical stuff given to the scandal-mongering operation is a prime example of poor judgement and/or treason.

    Yeah, that plus the increasing incontinence of the scandal machine, is why I think someone actually pulled their ripcord.

    (There are two Milibands? I confess not to have paid that close attention, except that I agree the current government is liable to fall in the next few weeks.)

  23. emptywheel says:

    @posaune: We live in a loft made out of an old sewing factory. Which means big spaces with, at times, arbitrary walls. So yeah, no window to the bedroom. Now that we’ve figured out how to maintain circulation, it has actually been good.

  24. emptywheel says:

    @MadDog: One more thing. Remember that Virginia Seitz was confirmed at the end of June, but they knew she’d be coming.

  25. emptywheel says:

    @Eureka Springs: Thank you! I keep going back to it–it was such a welcome site. I was walking across the bridge and took notice of all the rocks bc the river is lower than I’ve ever seen it, so I was mostly looking to see what the new river level was. But then I looked closer, and !!!

    Thing is, we had a ton of rain in the last day, so it likey isn’t even there and if it is, it’s surely covered w/water at this point.

  26. DWBartoo says:

    Fantastic “peace ducks” photo, EW.

    You certainly are in the right place at the right time … to the immense benefit of all the rest of us, including the ducks.

    Which is truly appreciated.


  27. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: Another thing I hadn’t considered. Ta!

    Also, in re-reading the OLC opinion (8 page PDF) this morning (after thinking about it all last night in my sleep), I wanted to point to a couple of interesting tidbits:

    1. From page 2 comes their “hypothetical”:

    …You have asked us to assume, for purposes of our analysis, that a Department component has revoked an employee’s security clearance; that the loss of security clearance caused the component to discharge the employee; that the employee has appealed the component’s security-clearance revocation decision to the ARC; and that, in the course of the ARC adjudication, the Department intends to justify the clearance revocation with the use of information it has “obtained . . . from an electronic surveillance” of communications that involved the employee…

    And then secondarily, from page 3 (and my Bold):

    …The component must also inform the employee that she has a right, at her own expense, to be represented by counsel or another representative of her choice…

    I don’t think the usage of the feminine pronoun “she” was inadvertent, so this seems to be a clue to the gender of the person who worked within the DOJ umbrella organization (DOJ directly or perhaps the FBI), who had a security clearance, who was specifically targeted by surveillance authorized under a FISA warrant, and was fired.

  28. lysias says:

    @rugger9: The Srebrenice massacre was in 1995. You’re saying we bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 because of something that happened in 1995?

    And just what Serbian targeting at Srebrenice in 1995 are you saying the Chinese embassy in Belgrade assisted?

  29. rugger9 says:

    @lysias: We were trying to hold Milo accountable, and the bad guys kept giving us the slip, based in part on stuff the Chinese were passing along. Any more than that and clearances are needed.

  30. Bob Schacht says:


    “For some of us, wine is the ultimate fixer-upper! ;-) ”

    Maybe, but the scientific evidence is against you. I enjoy a good glass of wine, but it is almost always a bad idea to use it for “medicinal purposes,” rather than dealing with the real issue(s).

    Bob in AZ

  31. Bob Schacht says:

    @P J Evans:

    The key on that point is to avoid open=ended intellectually stimulating activity within a few hours of retiring for the night. Having been there many times myself, trying to go to sleep with a head full of loose ends leads to much fruitless tossing and turning. The only antidote for such restlessness that I have found is to get up, and write a few notes for myself to pursue the next day. Then I can let go of those loose ends for the night.

    Bob in AZ

  32. lysias says:

    @rugger9: You’re saying that was happening in 1999, when we bombed the Chinese embassy? Even if it was happening, why would China helping Serbian war criminals evade capture be a reason to bomb their embassy? I don’t see how it would have helped the Serbians’ war effort or hampered ours.

  33. Garrett says:


    Annie Dillard once had a room of her own, with a view. So she covered it up in cardboard. And then drew on the cardboard, the view.

    “The written word is weak,” she says, associated with this story. God love her, then. I’d like to see what would happen, if she were to try to write something strong.

  34. rugger9 says:

    So, it’s OK for the Chinese to send us poisoned pet food, poisoned supplements, defective products, and counterfeit microchips, all the while thumbing their nose at the world on currency manipulation, Tibet, Taiwan, human rights, North Korea follies [China supplies ~90% of the energy resources for the North, BTW, and can stop anything they WANT TO STOP] and piss-poor environmental policies, just to name a few STILL going on? Since when can the PRC government be trusted on anything?

    As ex-military, I happen to be aware of several more key details in the Chinese government activity in the area which aren’t common knowledge, and quite frankly they brought it on themselves. Apologists like you trying to somehow tie it in with the Georgian situation or blame the military show a distinct lack of understanding about what actually does get done overseas. The Chinese embassy bombing may have “officially” been an accident, but the CIA was running that particular show then, and the so-called “outdated maps” were in fact correct. FWIW, the PRC doesn’t think it was accidental either. We were apparently targeting a militia leader of the Tigers named Arkan.

    From Wiki, noting what the Observer/Politiken reported then, and overseas outlets such as Reuters and Agency France-Presse repeated:

    Regarding the no-strike databases, the report continued “the CIA and other NATO intelligence agencies, such as Britain’s MI6 and the code-breakers at GCHQ, would have listened in to communication traffic from the Chinese embassy as a matter of course since it moved to the site in 1996”. The flight-control officer told the journalists that “the Chinese embassy was correctly located at its current site” in the database “and not where it had been until 1996 – as claimed by the US and NATO”.
    The report offered no firm reason as to why China might help Milosevic but suggested Serbia might be in a position to trade having recently shot down an F-117 stealth fighter, the first stealth aircraft lost in action and the first piece of US stealth technology to fall into enemy hands.
    A further report in The Observer of November 28, 1999 added more details.[25] According to the report, American officials indicated that the reason behind the bombing of the embassy, was because they believe the embassy had provided signals facilities for Željko Ražnatović, commonly known as Arkan, a Serb paramilitary leader wanted by the ICTY for war crimes. NATO’s briefing of May 8, which stated Arkan’s HQ was at the Hotel Yugoslavia 500m/550yds away, is consistent with this interpretation.[24]
    A scene at the Combined Air Operations Center (COAC) at Vicenza on the morning of May 8 was described: “British, Canadian and French air targeteers rounded on an American colonel on the morning of May 8. Angrily they denounced the ‘cock-up’. The US colonel was relaxed. ‘Bullshit,’ he replied to the complaints. ‘That was great targeting … we put two JDAMs down into the attache’s office and took out the exact room we wanted … they (the Chinese) won’t be using that place for rebro (re-broadcasting radio transmissions) any more, and it will have given that bastard Arkan a headache.'”
    Representatives of NATO governments dismissed the investigation. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described it as “balderdash” and UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said there wasn’t a “shred of evidence to support this rather wild story”.[26]

    There were also apocryphal reports that Arkan had set up shop just across the street from the place that was hit.

    So, Lysias, we had reason to still be blasting away there, in spite of your apologist stance.

  35. lysias says:

    @rugger9: After the way the U.S. and NATO lied all through the Kosovo War, I’d have to see evidence before I believe the charge that Arkan was guilty of war crimes there. I know they lied about genocide occurring in Kosovo before the NATO bombing started. And I’d have to see evidence that what he did severely impacted our war effort before I could entertain the possibility that whatever the Chinese were doing to protect him justified bombing their embassy. Plus, the Chinese were well aware that the whole Kosovo operation was a violation of international law, as it was their opposition, as well as the Russians’, that kept it from being authorized by the Security Council.

    I’m much more inclined to believe that people in our government and military were so frustrated by the lack of success of our air campaign that they sought other people to blame for that failure, and the Chinese were one of those scapegoats.

  36. rugger9 says:


    So the graves in Kosovo and Srebenica mean nothing? So, the lies routinely spouted by the PRC government and Putin’s Russia are to be accepted as gospel?

    Let’s not forget that the signals issuing from the embassy were in fact confirmed. Whether you want to wave the little red book saying LALALALA doesn’t change the facts on the ground. And, the PRC as well as the Soviets routinely use their UNSC vetos for political reasons, as well as venal ones [i.e. Tibet issues, among many others]. The only reason Korea happened as a UN mission was because the USSR abstained, and the PRC wasn’t in the UN yet.

    Besides, you haven’t answered why it’s OK for the PRC to lie about all of of the other issues [that killed far more people and pets than this bombing] I had noted in the last post. If you point fingers like this, answer the questions too.

  37. lysias says:

    @rugger9: I care about our bombing of the Chinese embassy, in violation of international law, and our fighting the Kosovo War in the first place, in violation of law, more than I do about whatever crimes China is guilty of, because my country — an ostensible democracy in which simple citizens like me allegedly have some power — did the former.

    I well remember reading an article in El Pais, shortly after the war ended, detailing how a team of Spanish medical investigators went to Kosovo after the war and just could not find those mass graves.

  38. lysias says:

    @rugger9: The U.S. is as responsible as anybody else for the permanent members of the Security Council having the veto. As a matter of fact, we use that veto far more than the other permanent members. How many resolutions critical of Israel have we vetoed? It must be over 100 at this point.

  39. rugger9 says:


    How about the melamine? Why is that OK? Currency? Tibet? Environment? Defective products? Pirating of US IP as a normal business while sticking it to us at the WTO? If you love China so much better, just move there.

    On the veto list, you need to look at why instead of the volume. The vast majority of them were to defend Israel from some trumped-up BS supported by the Soviets who were courting Baathists for the oil and warm water ports. History isn’t just about numbers, you have to see why those numbers are what they are, and I’m not sure you are willing to do that since all you are apparently trying to say is that the US was NEVER right. In anything.

    Which Israel veto would you have let go? Pick one.

    On Kosovo graves, you obviously forgot (conveniently) about Izbica (3/99) and Racak (1/99) and the ethnic cleansing that precipitated UN Resolution 1244 (6/99), which authorized NATO to be there [as KFOR]. I’ve now provided PROOF of the time we were there [one of your earlier unfounded objections], and that the killings were still going on and documented. Wiki has the dead body photos if you aren’t satisfied that there were people killed. 2500 – 3000 are still missing per the UN. Good enough for you?

    El Pais is a center-left publication, and would provide a reasonable expectation of reporting. They are a firm supporter of the monarchy under the Spanish constitution. However, in fairness it has been more of a democracy proponent than a communist rag as its critics prefer to label it [indeed, they filleted Che Guevara in print]. Interesting how they couldn’t find the graves already noted above.

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