The word “genie” comes from the Arab jinni. As every child knows, it describes a creature that, when summoned, fulfills your wishes. Doesn’t it seem like the United States played a cruel trick when it further westernized the concept of jinni by uncorking a bottle in Iraq and bidding the unleashed genie to effect regime change. Unfortunately, the genie, given its head by the United States, had its own ideas and subsequently lit the region on fire.

It’s hard to believe, but 13 years after the United States invaded Iraq and the situation isn’t much better than when it was at its worst. At Salon, Ben Norton writes:

At least 18,802 civilians were killed and 36,245 wounded in the country in the 22 months between Jan. 1, 2014, and Oct. 31, 2015, according to the Report on the Protection of Civilians in the Armed Conflict in Iraq.

Another 3,206,736 Iraqis were internally displaced, including more than 1 million school-age children, in the 21 months from January 2014 to September 2015.

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Solitary confinement is exactly what it sounds like.

A prisoner is kept in a small cell – usually 6 feet by 10 – alone, for 23 hours a day.

For one hour a day, he or she may be taken into a small cage outside, with the opportunity to walk in circles before being taken back in. Even the outdoor cage can usually be opened and closed remotely.

The idea is to keep the prisoner from having any human interaction. Those who’ve been through it call it a “living death.” The United Nations calls it torture.

The practice is widespread in the United States. And until recently, it was applied even to juveniles in the federal prison.

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When we speak of the government’s ongoing assault against the First Amendment, it is typically in the context of Freedom of Speech. That is indeed primarily the focus, using the tools of The State to silence its critics. But not if you are a Muslim.

For many Muslims, the clause inside the First Amendment most often violated is that of Freedom of Religion. One of the latest battles in that war is playing out now in New York City.

Because the worst of the 9/11 attacks happened in New York, the city has always claimed a kind of de facto exemption from having to follow the rule of law. Under its former mayors, the NYPD actively conducted blanket surveillance of the Muslim community, to include sending undercover cops into mosques and Muslim social events for “intel.” Though no obvious terror attacks were identified or thwarted, the NYPD insisted the program was critical (see the same tired arguments expelled as “torture worked, though we won’t tell you how.”)

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Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), speaking Tuesday at a hearing of the US House Armed Services Committee, returned to a subject he has addressed many times — the US government’s incredible waste of money and lives in Afghanistan. Providing one example to illustrate the “boondoggles” that permeate US activity in Afghanistan, Jones shed light on the six million dollars the US spent on a program involving importing “rare blonde Italian goats” to Afghanistan. The pricey goats, Jones relates, may have then just been eaten instead of being used to boost the cashmere industry in Afghanistan.

Jones, who is a Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Advisory Board member, further states that the goats boondoggle is one among many wastes of money in Afghanistan that John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, mentioned in January as a witness before a subcommittee of the US Senate Armed Services Committee. Jones expresses exasperation that the US may continue its presence, militarily and otherwise, in Afghanistan for another “20, 30, 40 years.” This costly foreign intervention, says Jones, is particularly worrisome considering the US government debt is at $19 trillion.

Watch Jones’ complete statement here:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

The Washington Post "revealed" today, as their headline read: ‘Eyewash’: How the CIA deceives its own workforce about operations. This would not come as news to anyone who pays attention to CIA pronouncements and reads Antiwar.com or Consortiumnews.com. But it begs the question of why the Post limited their article to the CIA and did not mention the many other so-called "national security" agencies who routinely engage in "eyewashing" with their every pronouncement? "Common sense" should tell us that the CIA isn’t the only national security agency which engages in deception, either of their own workforce, their Congressional "watchdogs," or of the public.

"Eyewashing" agencies include the DOD and its subordinate branches of the military, particularly the NSA and the Special Operations Commands, the FBI, Homeland Security, and the many other agencies, known and perhaps unknown, engaged in "protecting" the U.S. But the greater blame for failing to keep the public informed so they can, hopefully, override disastrous and self-damaging policies cooked up in the hothouses of national security agencies might better be placed upon the journalists, lawyers, etc. who were intended by the framers to form a part of the system of checks and balances as obstacles to policies pursued by incompetent, negligent, derelict, and/or odious officials.

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No matter who occupies the US presidency, it seems the neoconservatives always occupy positions of foreign policy power. A neocon like Robert Kagan, for example, is perfectly comfortable going from a senior position in the GW Bush administration to another senior post in Barack Obama’s State Department. When their failed policies wear out the name of one of their institutes, like Project for a New American Century, they simply change the name without losing a beat, in this case turning into the “Foreign Policy Initiative.” Filmmaker Robbie Martin has done a terrific job looking into the neocon domination of Washington in his three-part documentary film, A Very Heavy Agenda. Martin joins today’s Liberty Report to talk about his films and to talk about the neocons who star in them:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.