In mid-July, the Obama Administration publicly announced that they weren’t going to “publicly blame” China for the OPM hack, despite saying, publicly, that they believe China did it.

This was because there was no good evidence for China having done it. Indeed, the FBI mentioned them as a possibility, leading media outlets to treat that as an allegation, leading Congress to declare that as proof China did it, leading other media outlets to say Congress confirmed the story, and so on. By the end of July, despite not “publicly blaming” China, US officials were openly talking about “revenge” against them.

Shortly thereafter, a hack against the Pentagon’s unclassified email system happened, and the entire process was repeated again, only this time it was Russia who wasn’t formally blamed, who no evidence existed to really prove was behind it, and who the US was still mad at.

Fast forward another month, and we are at the present, with US officials now talking up the possibility of announcing sanctions against both Russia and China over these “cyber-attacks,” which again, they have not offered any public evidence were committed by either nation.

While officials treat this as a totally consequence-free option, the reality is that the sanctions are almost certain to provoke retaliatory sanctions, and tit-for-tat moves that will worsen relations and harm trade. And again, all this to “punish” people we really shouldn’t be so sure did it in the first place.

It is interesting that Americans do not invoke Malcolm X the way they invoke other civil rights leaders.  Where ideas about American militarism go, X’s contributions were piercingly insightful but lamentably overlooked when the man lived. For that they deserve greater attention today.

But first a word on X’s sporadic anti-Semitism and anti-white fulminations, both of which lead some people to ignore everything else X had to say. If we believe it fair to judge historical figures on the basis of their most contemptible sympathies alone, then X is indeed irredeemable.  But then, so too are Gandhi, Plato, and Aristotle irredeemable for some of their nefarious beliefs. For that matter, the ideas of four of the United States’ first five presidents are worthless, and for much greater reason than X’s are; after all, Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe all owned human beings, whereas X did nothing so barbaric.

If we instead opt to examine X in his nuanced totality, we find not a kook but a winsome human rights activist with a lot of wisdom to share. As a black nationalist during the Cold War, he took no stock whatever in American militarists’ humanitarian pretensions. When many others did not, X questioned the “integrity” and “sincerity” of leaders who tackled problems that were not theirs to solve. Even “liberal” interventionists who genuinely desired progress in foreign lands were not heroes in X’s book. The American meddlers “minding somebody else’s business way over in South Vietnam,” X declaimed, were unhelpful at best and dangerous at worst.

Malcolm saved his admiration for Africans vying to “establish their own independent nations” and working to “create a future for their people” without the involvement of intruders. He noted positively that when “the people in Africa and Asia get some power of their own, they get a mind of their own. They start seeing with their own eyes and listening with their own ears and speaking with their own mouth.” He admired leaders like Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, a CIA target whose anti-colonial disposition disturbed the departing Belgians in 1960. X went so far as to call Lumumba “the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent,” for Lumumba “didn’t fear anybody. He had those people so scared they had to kill him.” X also commended members of the Organization of African Unity for trying to extinguish colonial “vestiges of oppression and exploitation being suffered by African people.”

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In the last few weeks, there have been several reports that senior intelligence officials were skewing the intelligence on how (un)successful the military campaign against ISIS has been. “Officials at United States Central Command – the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State – were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said,” the New York Times was the first to report.

Patrick Eddington – himself a former CIA whistleblower – put that allegation into historical context, reminding how intelligence agencies have focused on good news going back to the Vietnam War and repeating in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

While the history lesson is worthwhile by itself, Eddington makes another important point. He notes that Department of Defense’s Inspector General, which is investigating the claims, can’t be trusted to carry out such an investigation. “The allegations reported by the Times and the Daily Beast are too serious a matter to be left to the DOD IG, particularly given the DOD IG’s recent track record in dealing with high-profile whistleblower complaints.” Eddington focuses on the treatment that Thomas Drake and other NSA whistleblowers experienced when they alerted DOD’s IG to an ineffective boondoggle designed to make SAIC rich, and argues the Intelligence Community and Source Protection Office should conduct the investigation, particularly since other intelligence agencies may also be politicizing intelligence about Syria.

But there’s an even more important example why DOD’s IG should not be investigating this allegation: as became clear during the investigation into leaks about the Osama bin Laden raid to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty, DOD’s IG may not issue reports on senior DOD officials and will not on people who work in other agencies (as Leon Panetta did when he disclosed classified information). “Due to ‘a longstanding Department policy,’ … referrals of alleged misconduct by senior officials would have to be removed before [the Zero Dark Thirty report] could be published,” Senator Chuck Grassley learned when investigating whistleblower complaints of that investigation.

That’s a problem given that reports blame “senior officials” for the politicization of this intelligence.

DOD’s policy of suppressing information on top officials may only pertain to leaks and not all misconduct. Indeed, DOD’s IG has referred a number of generals for misconduct in recent years.

Yet given how closely this issue – spinning happy stories about our operations in Syria – relates to the prior example – spinning the most positive stories about the Osama bin Laden killing – there’s good reason to worry that DOD IG won’t implicate any senior officials even if they are politicizing the intelligence on Syria.

Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler writes the “Right to Know” column for ExposeFacts. She is best known for providing in-depth analysis of legal documents related to “war on terrorism” programs and civil liberties. Wheeler blogs at emptywheel.net and publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy. Wheeler won the 2009 Hillman Award for blog.

Reprinted from Expose Facts.

ISIS has released a new video over the weekend which discusses the self-proclaimed “caliphate’s” long-standing plans to release their own currency, including both gold and silver coins.

The video is a combination of the usual military bellicosity of ISIS videos, a call to global Islamism, and perhaps most unusually, a fairly straightforward call for hard money and an attack on the US Federal Reserve System.

While most of the talk in the past of this “gold dinar” stemmed from religious interpretations of this as the only permissible currency under Islam, ISIS seems to also be piggybacking on the usual talking points of the flaws of a fiat money system and the credit-driven global banking system.

The gold dinar, in this sense, is being presented as a uniquely sound currency, making the Islamic State the lone state in the world with a primary currency that is backed by precious metals, by virtue of being minted out of them.

This could be a shrewd tactic for ISIS, as particularly in oil-dependent Middle Eastern countries the local currencies have been fluctuating pretty wildly of late. The prospect of a more stable currency might make ISIS money more accepted abroad, even in nations overtly hostile to ISIS themselves, than it otherwise would be.

There has been talk of ISIS coming up with these gold dinars virtually since they seized Mosul, as the capture of the city netted them a massive banking complex and a large amount of gold from which to mint currency. There is, however, still no firm date for when this money is actually going to happen, despite the mock-ups being out for so long.

The Defense Department’s new Law of War manual, which provides guidance to military commanders in time of war, advises that journalists they consider “unprivileged belligerents” can be either removed from military facilities or even detained indefinitely without charge. The problem is we are in an endless, undeclared war and the provision is sufficiently vague to potentially include any effective critic of US military action. Today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report looks at this disturbing new development:

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

A flurry of reports are coming out hyping former US soldier Ryan O’Leary, who participated in the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and, hearing about the ISIS war, just unilaterally went over there to help the Kurds fight ISIS.

Instead, O’Leary got a little confused, and has decided that Iran is the real problem, even though they are, you know, on the same side in the war as the Kurds. Now, he says he’s training the Kurds to fight against Iran.

O’Leary insists there is “no difference” between Iran and ISIS, and that he is patrolling the Iran-Iraq border on the lookout for “Iranian aggression” at all times.

Except, again, Iran isn’t fighting against the Kurds, and indeed this time last year Iran became one of the first countries to directly arm the Kurds for fighting against ISIS.

O’Leary’s argument is that because he believes the nuclear deal with Iran is so super bad, and because he’s not clear on the difference between Iran and ISIS, he figures Iran will just up and invade Iraqi Kurdistan as soon as the US Congress fails to block the deal. Not that it makes any strategic sense for Iran, but everyone in the US, even the ones unclear on which one is ISIS, know Iran’s the bad guys, right?