Once again reflecting the huge disconnect between Israel’s far-right government and common sense, Israeli MP Michael Oren, who previously served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, insisted that the US owes Israel unconditional support because God wills it so.

“God speaks only one language and it’s the language in which we are yelling at each other in the next hall,” Oren declared during the caucus, adding that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would be considered “Jewish settlers in Bethlehem” today, and that God wants Israel to be strong.

The attempt to equate Jesus to settlers is a particularly bizarre comment, especially since it was made during a caucus focused on courting Christian support for Israel. It’s a transparently ham-fisted effort to shoehorn some of Israel’s worst, most opposed policies on the international community through Jesus.

On the one hand, the argument doesn’t hold water even within the spiritual context, as the Biblical story had Jesus et al. going to Bethlehem for the sake of a census. They were described in the text as living in Nazareth, which is an Israeli town, albeit one far-right parties are constantly trying to “trade” to a future Palestinian state because of all the Arabs that live there.

That’s neither here nor there, though, and the real issue is that Oren seems to believe this is part of a successful strategy to court US and international Christians toward supporting Israel. Oren appears to be dramatically underestimating the amount of work it takes to manipulate the average person, informed by his story of a far-right Texas Congressman promising him unlimited funds for Iron Dome because he thinks Jesus wants those missiles.

This ignores the reality that a far-right Texas Congressman would probably through money at anything war-seeming, and Oren’s four year term as the Israeli ambassador to the US appears to have left him convinced of our extreme gullibility.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Releasing an Intelligence Report on Shoot-Down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

It has been a year since the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, resulting in the death of 298 passengers and crew. The initial response by the U.S. government supported the contention that the likely perpetrators were anti-government forces in southeastern Ukraine (the customary media misnomer for them is “separatists”), and that they were possibly aided directly by Moscow.

On July 29, 2014, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) suggested that the United States Government report publicly what intelligence it actually had relating to the shoot-down lest the incident turn into another paroxysm of blaming Russia without cause. We are still waiting for that report.

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On Tuesday, I had the privilege and pleasure of podcasting with Sheldon Richman, as I do these days. Not every episode is about war, but they do tend to lean that way because both Sheldon and I are crazy peaceniks like that. Richman was particularly on fire in this episode. Many antiwar rants were had. Check it out. Sheldon knows his stuff, and I…also know a few things.

You can listen to an audio-only version of the podcast over here.¬†And check out Sheldon and my other chats here. (And while you’re at it, Scott Horton’s “Eye on the Empire” series with Jeffrey Tucker is also a very worthy watch.)

We’ve gone through the paucity of evidence related to who was behind the OPM hack before. FBI officials suggested they were looking into a number of situations, including the possibility of “state actors,” which led some media outlets to say they might be looking at China, which led Congressmen to say they heard on the TV that China did it, which led the media outlets to cite the Congressmen as proof China did it.

The evidence hasn’t been there though, and officials are saying it never will be. Today, US officials announced in the Washington Post that even though they’re pretty sure China did it (likely because they heard that on the TV), they aren’t going to publicly accuse them of doing so, apparently unclear on whether the Washington Post counts as public or not.

Officials are also saying “privately” (again, in a huge circulation newspaper) that they might impose sanctions on China for the hack, but not publicly say the sanctions are because of the hack, even though they literally just did say that.

The OPM hacks breached the data of some 20 million US government employees past and present, and despite the speculation that China did it for some national security purpose, those people have also been advised of the risk of identity theft for credit scams and whatnot in case this was actually a private group that hacked them for all the valuable information.

And what if the whole drama was only an exercise of deception?

What if the wily Persians did not even dream of building an atomic bomb, but used the threat to further their real aims?

What if Binyamin Netanyahu was duped to become unwittingly the main collaborator of Iranian ambitions?

Sounds crazy? Not really. Let’s have a look at the facts.

Iran is one of the oldest powers in the world, with thousands of years of political experience. Once they possessed an empire that spanned the civilized world, including our little country. Their reputation for clever trade practices is unequaled.

They are much too clever to build a nuclear weapon. What for? It would devour huge amounts of money. They know that they would never be able to use it. Same as Israel, with its large stockpile.

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If you watched Batman when you were growing up, chances are you saw him torture someone. If you watched Jack Bauer from the hit show 24, chances are even better that torture scenes were involved. And if you watched the Netflix show Daredevil, you probably saw it in almost every single episode.

The problem with relying on the effectiveness of torture in this context is that it’s a dramatic plotdevice. In these situations torture has to work or else the plot won’t move forward. But in reality torture isn’t done by people in menacing bat-suits or people who have only twenty-four hours exactly until people are going to die. Torture is not only immoral but almost always ineffective.

But try telling that to the CIA and Department of Defense.

Back in December the Senate Intelligence Committee did exactly that when they published a report on the CIA’s use of torture. It revealed tactics like Russian roulette, water boarding, and as John Oliver recently reported, “forced rectal rehydration”. Rectal rehydration involves serving prisoners liquefied food by force-feeding it through a tube inserted into the prisoner’s rectum.

Adding to this, the Christian Science Monitor and other outlets like the New York Timesrecently revealed a damning 542-page report. According to the report, the American Psychological Association (APA) aided the CIA by rebuffing critics of the CIA’s fifteen-year-long “enhanced interrogation.” It did this by deliberately “hiding its head in the sand” about the existence of CIA torture, and even softening its ethical guidelines in order to give tacit approval to the CIA’s techniques. The report also reveals close ties between DOD and APA staff members, as well as an eagerness in the higher ranks of the APA to curry favor with the DOD.

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