War, Terror, and the Ethics of Extinction


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“Violence begets violence” is a phrase famously used by Martin Luther King, Jr. And the “cycle of violence” is a well-known concept in the study of domestic abuse. In the days following 9/11, Harry Browne applied both to war and terrorism.

In those fevered days, Browne was one of the heroic few who bravely stood up to the “tripartisan” consensus among conservatives, liberals, and libertarians then baying for indiscriminate vengeance and displaying a rabid intolerance for dissent. On September 12, he wrote an editorial on Antiwar.com titled “When Will We Learn?” in which he cited the primary role of American state violence abroad in engendering retaliatory violence against the American people, which is what the 9/11 attacks were.

“Did we think the people who lost their families and friends and property in all that destruction would love America for what happened?

When will we learn that violence always begets violence?”

This drew a predictable flood of vituperation (much of it coming from libertarians), to which he responded with a follow-up editorial titled “The Cycle of Violence.” In that piece, he extended the “violence begets violence” principle to the terrorist attacks themselves.

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A month after former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony counts with circumstantial metadata, the zealous prosecution is now having potentially major consequences – casting doubt on the credibility of claims by the U.S. government that Iran has developed a nuclear weapons program.

With negotiations between Iran and the United States at a pivotal stage, fallout from the trial’s revelations about the CIA’s Operation Merlin is likely to cause the International Atomic Energy Agency to re-examine U.S. assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

In its zeal to prosecute Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information about Operation Merlin – which provided flawed nuclear weapon design information to Iran in 2000 – the U.S. government has damaged its own standing with the IAEA. The trial made public a treasure trove of information about the Merlin operation.

Last week Bloomberg News reported from Vienna, where IAEA is headquartered, that the agency “will probably review intelligence they received about Iran as a result of the revelations, said the two diplomats who are familiar with the IAEA’s Iran file and asked not to be named because the details are confidential.”

The Bloomberg dispatch, which matter-of-factly referred to Merlin as a “sting” operation, quoted a former British envoy to the IAEA, Peter Jenkins, saying: “This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find. That looks like a big problem.”

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Mcnulty 10616004_547567458716966_2220943659004814499_nOne of the heroes of the Waco fights of the 1990s has passed away.  Mike McNulty did more than any other single person to doggedly pursue the truth about Waco.  And he produced or co-produced a number of superb films that vividly and compelling explained why the feds were lying about the carnage they unleashed in Texas.  And he fed great information to me and other journalists – as well as sometimes impatiently pushing us forward, urging us to turn over more rocks. (I think my sense of humor puzzled or irked him at times during our phone calls, but I came out on the right side of the issue, so he usually tolerated me pretty well.)  Mike was never cowed by official bullshit or by the strutting and intimidation attempts by lawmen or political appointee poohbahs.  Mike helped Janet Reno get the legacy she deserved.

I quoted Mike at length on an article on the Waco coverup that came out in the Washington Times on the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 1995:

Other investigators are also raising questions about the government’s possible role in killing the Davidians. Michael McNulty, chairman of the Citizens Organization for Public Safety, of Fort Collins, Colo., has conducted an extensive analysis of videotapes on the final assault, as well as interviews with forensic scientists and Davidian survivors.

Mr. McNulty believes FBI snipers shot Davidians on the morning of April 19 as they were running out of the back of the compound to escape the CS gas. (During the FBI-Randy Weaver confrontation a few months before the Waco conflict, one FBI SWAT team member summarized the rules of engagement as “if you see ‘em, shoot ‘em,” according to a confidential Justice Department report). Mr. McNulty argues that infrared videotape indicates that the tanks may have pushed the bodies of the slain Davidians back into the building before the fire began. (Mr. McNulty has portions of the tape, but there are significant gaps that the government has refused to release).

Mr. McNulty also believes the FBI intentionally ignited two fires in the compound the final day with pyrotechnic devices. He says that FBI pyrotechnic devices were fired into areas inundated with CS gas particulates at precisely the same time that fireballs exploded from the back of the gymnasium. According to Army manuals, there is a significant risk of flammability from CS gas particulates. For instance, Army field manual FM-21-27 states on page 21: “Warning: When using the dry agent CS-1, do not discharge indoors. Accumulating dust may explode when exposed to spark or open flame.”

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Over at Truth in Media, Ben Swann presents a clear and damning report on how the US actions in Iraq and Syria led to the rise of ISIS. Featuring Antiwar.com’s Angela Keaton. (How did Swann get a one-on-one interview with Barack Obama?!)

News release from the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep)

A federal lawsuit seeks disclosure of thousands of Central Intelligence Agency files revealing why the CIA is convinced that Israel stole enough U.S. government-owned weapons-grade uranium in the 1960’s to manufacture over a dozen atomic weapons.

The 147-page complaint (PDF) filed in DC’s U.S. District Court contains exhibits about how U.S. weapons-grade uranium was illegally diverted from the now-defunct Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) in Apollo, Pennsylvania into the clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons development program.  The CIA for decades has blocked researcher Freedom of Information Act access to its core files on the NUMEC diversion.

The lawsuit against CIA comes at the conclusion of IRmep’s courtroom victory this month against the U.S. Department of Defense to release a report (PDF) on the Israeli H-bomb development program, laser enrichment of weapons-grade material and 1987 status of its nuclear weapons production sites.

The CIA lawsuit exhibits reveal:

  1. An FBI eyewitness account of NUMEC executives stuffing irradiators with weapons-grade uranium canisters for rush shipment to Israel.
  2. A leaked file of CIA Directorate of Operations Chief Carl Duckett confirming the illegal diversion to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  3. The NUMEC facility visit during its highest-loss year of Israel’s top spies, including Jonathan Pollard’s handler Rafael Eitan and Avraham Bendor.
  4. LBJ and Carter administration attempts to cover-up CIA’s compelling evidence that an illegal diversion occurred.
  5. CIA Tel Aviv Station Chief John Hadden’s analysis that NUMEC “was an Israeli operation from the beginning.”
  6. Former Atomic Energy Commissioner Glenn T. Seaborg’s account of the Energy Department claims that traces of the specialized highly-enriched uranium provided to NUMEC were picked up in Israel.
  7. A GAO report on NUMEC with CIA equity the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel compelled be publicly released in 2014.

Currently, U.S. taxpayers are expected to pay for a nearly half-billion dollar U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cleanup of the environment surrounding the undercapitalized smuggling front’s former plant sites and waste dump.

According to IRmep Director Grant F. Smith, “It is our hope that this lawsuit is a productive step in finally holding those truly responsible for the NUMEC fiasco accountable.”

IRmep is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit researching U.S. Middle East policy formulation. Select CIA and DOD lawsuit filings may be viewed at IRmep’s Center for Policy and Law Enforcement web page at: http://irmep.org/CFL.htm.

Grant F. Smith is the author of America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government. He currently serves as director of research at the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington (IRmep), D.C. Read other articles by Grant, or visit Grant’s website.

In fact, it would be unfair to suggest that he got all his ideas about the world from his brother and father. It would be equally off-base to suggest that he has any of his own. What he, like most of the other Republicans who may run for president, has are muscular-sounding bromides that substitute for understanding.

This is from Steve Chapman, “Jeb Bush’s Empty Indictment,” February 23, 2015. The piece is excellent.

Responding to Jeb Bush’s claim that “We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies,” Chapman writes:

We no longer scare our enemies? The United States is a superpower that has been at war for 13 years, has brought about regime change in multiple countries, and is currently leading an air campaign against the Islamic State while conducting drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. If those facts give our enemies no anxiety, our enemies are exceedingly dim.