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I hold no brief for State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, who spends most of her time shilling for her bosses’ catastrophic policies in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and beyond. But it bodes ill for our prospects of peace that the most sensible thing I’ve ever heard her say is the one thing that has put her in possibly career-ending hot water.

On MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, she had the following exchange with the host:

MARIE HARF, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: I think there are a few stages here, right now we are trying to take their leaders and their fighters off the battlefield in Iraq & Syria, that is where they really flourish.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Are we killing enough of them?

MARIE HARF: We’re killing a lot of them. And we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians and Jordanians, they’re in this fight with us. We can not win this war by killing them. We can not kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium and longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it is lack of opportunity for jobs—

First of all, here is what is problematic about her statement. For one thing, she ignores the deepest of the “root causes,” which is US intervention itself: especially, George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, which fertilized the east of the Fertile Crescent with blood and chaos, yielding a blooming Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) as its harvest.
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After a week here in FMC Lexington Satellite camp, a federal prison in Kentucky, I started catching up on national and international news via back issues of USA Today available in the prison library, and an “In Brief” item, on p. 2A of the Jan. 30 weekend edition, caught my eye. It briefly described a protest in Washington, D.C., in which members of the antiwar group “Code Pink” interrupted a U.S. Senate Armed Services budget hearing chaired by Senator John McCain. The protesters approached a witness table where Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and George Schulz were seated. One of their signs called Henry Kissinger a war criminal. “McCain,” the article continued, “blurted out, ‘Get out of here, you low-life scum.'”

At mail call, a week ago, I received Richard Clarke’s novel, The Sting of the Drone, (May 2014, St. Martin’s Press), about characters involved in developing and launching drone attacks. I’m in prison for protesting drone warfare, so a kind friend ordered it for me. The author, a former “National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism,” worked for 30 years inside the U.S. government but seems to have greater respect than some within government for concerned people outside of it. He seems also to feel some respect for people outside our borders.

He develops, I think, a fair-minded approach toward evaluating drone warfare given his acceptance that wars and assassinations are sometimes necessary. (I don’t share that premise). Several characters in the novel, including members of a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, criticize drone warfare, noting that in spite of high level, expensive reconnaissance, drone attacks still kill civilians, alienating people the U.S. ostensibly wants to turn away from terrorism.

Elsewhere in the plot, U.S. citizens face acute questions after they themselves witness remote control attacks on colleagues. Standing outside a Las Vegas home engulfed in flames, and frustrated by his inability to protect or save a colleague and his family, one main character ruefully identifies with people experiencing the same rage and grief, in faraway lands like Afghanistan and Pakistan, when they are struck by Predator drones that he operates every day. U.S. characters courageously grapple with more nuanced answers to questions such as, “Who are the terrorists?” and “Who are the murderers?” As the plot accelerates toward a potential terrorist attack against railway systems in U.S. cities, with growing suspicion that the attacks are planned for Christmas Day, Clarke builds awareness that those who launch cyber-attacks and drone attacks, no matter which side claims their loyalty, passionately believe their attacks will protect people on their own side.

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In his speech this week to his anti-extremism conclave in Washington, President Obama declared that “former extremists have the opportunity to speak out, speak the truth about terrorist groups, and oftentimes they can be powerful messengers in debunking these terrorist ideologies.”

But what about former victims of government extremism speaking out?

Maher Arar is a Canadian who was kidnapped at John F. Kennedy Airport in 2002 and renditioned to Syria, where he was tortured at the behest of the U.S. government. I mentioned his case in a 2007 American Conservative article optimistically titled, “Will Torture Bring Down Bush?”:

But the evidence of CIA “torture taxis” secretly racing around the globe carrying gagged, sedated detainees to some of the most brutal regimes in the world proved too much for Bush to deny. He revised his defense in April 2005: “We operate within the law and we send people to countries where they say they are not going to torture people.” But then why would the U.S. go to the trouble of kidnapping people—Canadian Maher Arar, who was grabbed at JFK Airport and renditioned to Syria or Australian Mamduh Habib, seized in Pakistan and flown to Egypt, for instance—and turning them over to governments the U.S. has long denounced for using torture?

I also blogged about his case in 2010, “Obama Administration: Don’t Question Sincerity of Torturers” –

The Supreme Court disgraced itself on Monday by torpedoing the appeal of Maher Arar, the Canadian who was kidnapped at John F. Kennedy International Airport and sent by the U.S. government to Syria for torturing.

The Canadian government has publicly apologized to Arar for providing false information to the U.S. government about Arar’s suspicious connections. The U.S. government has refused to admit it did anything wrong in shipping Arar to the Middle East to be tortured at U.S. behest.

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Tuesday on Fox Radio News’ “The Alan Colmes Show,” Alan spoke with Antiwar.com founder Eric Garris about President Obama asking Congress for the authorization for the use of military force to take on ISIS.

Garris has urged citizens to call their representatives to oppose this use of force, and explained to Alan why the Obama administration are only trying to scare people into supporting war. They also discussed why such a move would only unify ISIS and al-Qaeda against the United States because we will be seen as a common enemy.

Listen to the interview here:

Ron Paul revealed Thursday that he is preparing for publication a new book he has written about war. Paul made the revelation at the conclusion of a wide-ranging foreign policy interview on the Scott Horton Show.

The former United States House of Representative member and presidential candidate discloses in the interview that his new book concerns the issue of war and is “written from a personal viewpoint.” Paul says the book addresses his experience as a child during World War II and the question “How did I become so antiwar?”

The new book, the name of which Paul did not disclose in the interview, will be Paul’s first book-length examination of the war issue — an issue on which Paul has focused through decades of political and educational activities. Paul has continued this focus after retiring from the House of Representatives. In 2013 Paul founded the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, where he serves as chairman.

Paul is the author of several books including best-sellers The Revolution: A Manifesto, End the Fed, and Liberty Defined. Paul’s 2007 book A Foreign Policy of Freedom is a collection of his foreign policy speeches and writings from the previous 30 years.

Paul did not provide an expected publication date in the interview.

Listen to the complete interview here.

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

Watching Fox News’s recent coverage of the ISIS Twitter-hack left me shaking my head in disbelief, as usual. The latest act alleged to have been carried out by ISIS is the group’s takeover of several Twitter accounts belonging to the wives of U.S. military servicemen. Among the threatening tweets issued by ISIS through the hacked accounts were comments like: “You think you’re safe but you’re not”, “IS is already here”, and “We’re watching you” (issued specifically to Michelle Obama).

The ISIS tweet receiving the least attention from American media outlets appears to be the one with the most substance: “While your president and your husband are killing our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we’re coming for you.” In fact, it is the only ISIS tweet in this series containing any content other than ambiguous threats. Despicable as it is to those of us who abhor violence, the comment is extremely revealing and worthy of the close attention of American foreign policymakers. Yet, it got no treatment whatsoever by government decision makers or the American media. They preferred to speculate whether ISIS really might be around the corner.

The tweet is crucial in that it reveals one of ISIS’s main motivations – their desire to repel American military operations now taking place in virtually every Arab country. It is just one in a long line of declaratory statements made by the various Islamic factions fighting the American military, in which they attempt to explain their rationale.

Former CIA chief of the bin Laden Unit, Michael Scheuer, said about bin Laden: “[he] is remarkably eager for Americans to know why he doesn’t like us, what he intends to do about it and then following up and doing something about it in terms of military actions.” Bin Laden laid out his motivations directly to the American public in a letter. In the letter, he cited, among other reasons for fighting, the U.S. government’s continuing support of Israel’s ethnic cleansing in Palestine, the U.S. government’s wars in Muslim lands like Somalia and Iraq, and the U.S. government’s repression of Muslims via puppet regimes scattered throughout the Middle East. Notice a recurring theme here? Bin Laden’s grievances were with the U.S. government.

Yes, bin Laden does attribute some responsibility for these acts to U.S. taxpayers, who he says make their government’s actions possible. Yet this should not come as a shocking or even disturbing revelation. In any government war, the enemy’s source of funding is a primary target. For this very reason, the U.S. government has made it a crime to provide financial support to those it deems terrorists or terrorist organizations. So it should come as no surprise that al Qaeda or ISIS would play by the same rules of war, in which they declare the U.S. government’s piggybank (the taxpayer) fair game. Disturbing, yes. Surprising, no.

There is no denying that the American way of life also motivates ISIS, al Qaeda, and their brethren. In the bin Laden letter, he also goes on to cite a western culture that is repugnant to his perverted brand of Islam as a motivating factor. Unfortunately, in an effort to avoid blame, the U.S. government and its mouthpiece media present only this factor. It is absolutely taboo to mention the murder and mayhem committed by the U.S. government in Muslim lands as a possible contributing factor. As Scheuer said, trying to do so is like “yelling into a closet. The American people, God bless ‘em, are just so?badly educated and unaware of how duplicitous their leaders are..”