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Hat tip to DWG.  This article originally appeared in Le Monde and was republished by ZDNet.  

The Oil War

The Iraq war was about oil. Recently declassified US government documents confirm this (1), however much US president George W Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their ally, the British prime minister Tony Blair, denied it at the time.

When Bush moved into the White House in January 2001, he faced the familiar problem of the imbalance between oil supply and demand. Supply was unable to keep up with demand, which was increasing rapidly because of the growth of emerging economies such as China and India. The only possible solution lay in the Gulf, where the giant oil-producing countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, and the lesser producing states of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, commanded 60% of the world’s reserves.

For financial or political reasons, production growth was slow. In Saudi Arabia, the ultra-rich ruling families of the Al-Saud, the Al-Sabah and the Zayed Al-Nayan were content with a comfortable level of income, given their small populations, and preferred to leave their oil underground. Iran and Iraq hold around 25% of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves and could have filled the gap, but were subject to sanctions — imposed solely by the US on Iran, internationally on Iraq — that deprived them of essential oil equipment and services. Washington saw them as rogue states and was unwilling to end the sanctions.

How could the US get more oil from the Gulf without endangering its supremacy in the region? Influential US neoconservatives, led by Paul Wolfowitz, who had gone over to uninhibited imperialism after the fall of the Soviet Union, thought they had found a solution. They had never understood George Bush senior’s decision not to overthrow Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf war in 1991. An open letter to President Bill Clinton, inspired by the Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century, a non-profit organisation founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, had called for a regime change in Iraq as early as 1998: Saddam must be ousted and big US oil companies must gain access to Iraq. Several signatories to the Statement of Principles became members of the new Republican administration in 2001.

Amnesty International coming out with a report today on Iraq.  This article is from Patrick Cockburn of the Independent, who opposed the war from day one and got the analysis right.  I hope that a light is shown this week on all the media figures who cheerled us into Iraq.  Greg Mitchell has been digging up 10-year old articles from pom pommed journalists.  Not that people can't be forgiven.  The Bush admin did a full court press and had many accomplices.  It's not exactly easy to fact check the supposed mobile labs and aluminum tubes without an intelligence agency of your own.  But I do hope that they own up. Wishful thinking?  Well then, I do hope that they don't do the same thing with Iran and other drumbeats for war. That shouldn't be too much to hope for.  A certain song by The Who comes to mind.  This article just brings back all the memories of the righteous speeches and stories of the brutal Saddam regime.  And the forced confessions so successfully induced by torture and "enhanced interrogations" are now not just the legend of Saddam and brutal dictators.  We now have Hollywood movies making heroes out of Americans who do the same kinds of things.  Ten years ago that was unthinkable.  It's almost unfathomable how much things have changed.  
Torture of detainees by state security is still pervasive in Iraq, report claims

Torture of detainees by state security is pervasive in Iraq ten years after the fall of Saddam Hussein says an Amnesty International report, Iraq: a Decade of Abuses, published tomorrow. Though American and British leaders cited the brutality and cruelty of Saddam Hussein’s regime as a justification for overthrowing his regime, extreme abuse of prisoners has never ceased.

Forced confessions are at the heart of the present legal system with prisoners being given life and death sentences on the basis of false statements extracted by torture. In one case last year, cited by Amnesty, four men were arrested in Ramadi, held incommunicado and tortured by various means, including being hung up by the wrists and beatings, until they confessed. Before their trial a local television station “broadcast film of them providing self-incriminating evidence of having committed capital crimes.” All four were sentenced to death under the anti-terrorism law ignoring, according to one of the four men, even a request by the prosecution to release him.

Greg Mitchell has been reminding us about journalism on Iraq ten years ago.

Greg Mitchell

The stenography is stunning on the huge NYT front page story about the Awlaki kill, complete with large photo of patriotic Obama with hand over heart, followed by three scary Muslim mugshots.  And as some have been asking, will all of the anonymous administration officials be prosecuted for disclosing classified information?  Congress isn't allowed to see or hear the information about the Awlaki kill.  The public is not allowed to see the information or memos about the Awlaki kill.  But three NYT stenographers are, as long as they write a huge, "administration friendly" Sunday NYT spread on the front page?  

Well, one thing we know is that the attention to the Brennan hearings and the Rand Paul filibuster certainly made the administration feel that they had to drag a lot of this stuff out from the shadows.  A huge Sunday Times story with three journalist bylines and a rare Obama speech?  That is some serious damage control, IMHO.  I would applaud it if not for the way they used those photos and the serious problems with the article, the history Scott Shane has with huge NYT propaganda pieces (remember the Kill List article?) and the continued secrecy with the memos.  I do give Obama credit for doing a speech.  He owes it to the American people and I'm glad he summoned up the courage, more than a year after the kill, and after his election of course.  I hope he reads some of the criticisms of this article before giving the speech though, and that they make sure the facts from public documents and previous reports are in line with the claims.  

So there are many, many objections to the government's story (possibly, predicts emptywheel, in preparation for the upcoming Obama speech) about the killing of the Awlakis.  ACLU:

ACLU and CCR Comment on New York Times Article on Killing of Anwar Al-Aulaqi

NEW YORK - The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement in response to The New York Times article today detailing the U.S. government’s killings of three U.S. citizens:

"In anonymous assertions to The New York Times, current and former Obama administration officials seek to justify the killings of three U.S. citizens even as the administration fights hard to prevent any transparency or accountability for those killings in court. This is the latest in a series of one-sided, selective disclosures that prevent meaningful public debate and legal or even political accountability for the government’s killing program, including its use against citizens.

"Government officials have made serious allegations against Anwar al-Aulaqi, but allegations are not evidence, and the whole point of the Constitution’s due process clause is that a court must distinguish between the two. If the government has evidence that Al-Aulaqi posed an imminent threat at the time it killed him, it should present that evidence to a court. Officials now also anonymously assert that Samir Khan’s killing was unintended and that the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Aulaqi was a mistake, even though in court filings the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge any role in those killings.  In court filings made just last week, the government in essence argued, wrongly, that it has the authority to kill these three Americans without ever having to justify its actions under the Constitution in any courtroom."

This dissection by emptywheel -- you really need to read the full article. There is no way to effectively excerpt it.  There are a lot of people watching this story, including many journalists who have commented on it via Twitter.  About six hours after this was posted, it had about 600 tweets and more than 600 shares.  Some of the comments about it on Twitter are: "A masterful takedown of the NYT", "brilliant dissection", "The govt case falls apart under even light scrutiny", "pokes a bunch of holes in NYT's "administration-friendly" story on Awlaki's killing", "sees the Times front-page Al-Awlaki story as a trial balloon for Obama's upcoming speech on killing", "deeply (IMO correctly) skeptical analysis", "Watch the media get in line to tell the administration's canned story. As usual start with the NYT", " NYT, Lawfare & MSNBC in 3-way tie for Obama admin BFF status", "Marcy Wheeler subjects the NYT's government-mimicking Awlaki story to exactly the contempt it deserves",
Anwar al-Awlaki Is the New Aluminum Tube

Mark Mazzetti, Charlie Savage, and Scott Shane team up to provide the government’s best case — and at times, an irresponsibly credulous one — for the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and the collateral deaths of Samir Khan and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.

Yet even in a 3,600 word story, they don’t present any evidence against the senior Awlaki that was fresher than a year old — the October 2010 toner cartridge plot — at the time the Yemeni-American was killed. (I’m not saying the government didn’t have more recent intelligence; it just doesn’t appear in this very Administration-friendly case.) Not surprisingly, then, the story completely ignores questions about the definition of “imminent threat” used in the OLC memo and whether Awlaki was an “imminent” threat when he was killed.
Abu Tarak is not simply Awlaki. Perhaps Abdulmutallab said Abu Tarak was an amalgam of three different people he met in Yemen. Perhaps he never said anything to explain the Abu Tarak reference, and DOJ just claims he did because some of what he attributed to Abu Tarak he later attributed to Awlaki. But the NYT presents a claim — that Abdulmutallab said Abu Tarak was Awlaki — that is not consistent with the public records and the government’s own claims about what that public record represents.

[...] But introducing the cable (this is the NYT! They never pass up an opportunity to rely on WikiLeaks cables!) would have undermined the rest of their article.
Mind you, the NYT makes their job — which, in addition to claiming critics of the legal case behind the Anwar al-Awlaki killing are simply confused, seems to be inventing narratives to make the Khan and Abdulrahman deaths less appalling — much easier by ignoring that WikiLeaks cable. But ignoring it does the same thing their demonstrably credulous acceptance of the Abu Tarak story does: it demonstrates how hard the NYT worked to preserve the narrative the government fed them, public evidence to the contrary. [...] Any bets that what Obama says will match the story told here?

Back in June, 2012, by Daniel Klaidman.
7 Key Moments in Daniel Klaidman’s ‘Kill or Capture’ About Obama’s Drone War
Daniel Klaidman has reported extensively for Newsweek and The Daily Beast on Obama’s hunt for terrorists. Read seven of the key moments in his new book on the subject, Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency.

One terrorist Obama was reportedly particularly set on seeing killed or captured was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and radical cleric who was killed by a drone in Yemen last September. Al-Awlaki obsessed Obama after the success of the attack on bin Laden, Klaidman reports, telling advisers at a weekly counterterrorism meeting, “I want Awlaki. Don’t let up on him.” According to sources, the president even considered allowing for some collateral damage if it meant taking out Awlaki, asking that advisers keep him apprised of any opportunity to eliminate the cleric.

Peak oil was just a conspiracy theory!
BP CEO: ‘Peak oil’ talk quieted by abundance

HOUSTON – BP CEO Robert Dudley said booming oil-and-gas production from sources including onshore shale formations and deepwater regions has defeated arguments that global oil production will soon peak and go into an irreversible decline.
“Thanks to new frontiers such as shale and deepwater, our industry is now producing an enormous amount of previously unreachable oil and gas,” Dudley added.

He said that at current consumption rates, data suggests that the world has 54 years’ worth of proven oil reserves and 64 years worth of proven gas reserves, adding, “more will be found.”

Another point of view from an oil and gas industry surrogate/participant. Yes, peak oil is true, but look at all the money I can make with my technologies with at side order of climate change denial, saying the media is biased.
Peak Oil Is Almost Here and There's No Magic To Counter It: Interview with Dave Summers

This where we stand, and it's a fairly bleak view: Peak oil is almost here, and nothing new (with the possible but unlikely exception of Iraq) is coming online anytime soon and while the clock is ticking - forward movement on developing renewable energy resources has been sadly inadequate. In the meantime, the idea that shale reservoirs will lead the US to energy independence will soon enough be recognized as unrealistic hype. There are no easy solutions, no viable quick fixes, and no magic fluids. Yet the future isn't all doom and gloom – certain energy technologies do show promise. We had a chance to speak with well known energy expert Dave Summers where we cut through the media noise and take a realistic look at what our energy future holds.

Dr. Dave Summers - scientist, prolific writer and author of Waterjetting Technology, is the co-founder of The Oil Drum and currently writes at the popular energy blog Bit Tooth Energy. From a family of nine generations of coal miners, Summers' patented waterjetting technology enables the high-speed drilling of small holes through the earth among other applications. In an exclusive interview with, Dr. Summers discusses:
Why new drilling techniques aren't enough to put peak oil off
Why the shale revolution will not lead to energy independence
Why the potential of nuclear energy isn't being realized
Why ‘plan B' for Keystone isn't beneficial to the US
Why we should be worried about the South China Sea and the Middle East
How low natural gas prices cannot be sustained
Why Europe's shale future is still indeterminate
Why the coal industry's days aren't necessarily numbered
Why geothermal energy has the greatest potential
How media manipulation figures in to the climate debate
Why nuclear fusion remains a fantasy in our lifetimes and beyond

You should increase your consumption of oil and gas products and invest in the oil and gas industry!  Wall Street is all in.  Supposedly.  This is amazing.  And all you have to do is pay no heed to those rising tides, climbing temps, and agree spend blood and treasure on neverending war.  And die off more quickly please, so we can focus most of our spending on wars and banks.  We can save the oil and gas industry world for you! But it will require a bit of shared sacrifice.
Peak Oil No More? Bankers Prepare For a World of Energy Abundance

After years of forecasts - part of a long tradition - that oil supplies were close to running out with the potential for immense supply shocks for the global economy, Wall Street analysts are beginning to build a new consensus around the potential for an unexpected and still-emerging demand-side shock.

"After years of indifference, U.S. consumers have radically reduced their consumption of petroleum and related products, moderating demand in the world's largest market," a report from Bank of New York Mellon's Boston-based equity specialist notes, the group said in announcing the availability of the report "End of an Era: Death of Peak Oil."

"Concurrently, heightened investments and technological breakthroughs, such as fracking, have spurred an explosion in resources, creating balanced supply and demand," The Boston Company Asset Management said.
To download a full copy of the report in PDF form, click here.

Thanks to John Brennan, a Big and Bipartisan Pushback Against the Vast Killing Program

Just two months ago, when President Obama nominated the architect of his vast killing program, John Brennan, to be CIA Director, the Obama Administration was doing its best to keep almost all of its made-up rules for the killing program effectively locked away in a hermetically sealed black box. But in nominating Brennan, the president was waving a red flag at Congress, all but taunting Congress on just how little Congress and the American people know about hidden rules, which allow "informed, high-level officials" to kill people away from any battlefield, even American citizens.

But thanks to a bipartisan coalition from the right and the left—all concerned about the Constitution and the rule of law--that is no longer the case. Sure the black box hasn't been smashed yet, but because of committed activists, courageous senators, and public outrage, Congress has once again started to assert its role of watchdog over the White House's most secretive program.

Security threats, fractures plague U.S. and Afghans

Karzai raised another difficult issue when he denounced the alleged seizure of a university student Saturday by Afghan forces his aide said were working for the CIA. It was unclear why the student was detained.

Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said in an interview with The Associated Press that the CIA freed the student after Karzai's staff intervened, but that Karzai wants the alleged Afghan raiders arrested. The president issued a decree on Sunday banning all international forces and the Afghans working with them from entering universities and schools without Afghan government permission.

The CIA declined to comment. NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Les Carroll said that no NATO forces "harassed a university student" as described by the President's office.
The CIA has trained an Afghan counterterrorist force several thousand strong, known as the Counterterrorism Pursuit Team, which works mostly in insurgent strongholds in southern and eastern Afghanistan. U.S. officials say they work in concert with the Afghan intelligence service, but Karzai frequently complains he lacks oversight over their operations.

More US unions are now running their own businesses

For example, the United Steelworkers union (USW) is starting a handful of co-ops across the rust belt in collaboration with the Basque Mondragon Corporation; a sprawling federation of cooperative businesses, in which all of the workers have an equal share in the company and get to vote to determine corporate governance. In Mondragon, company management in the federation is answerable to a democratically Governing Council and General Assembly consisting of all employees. Since 2009, USW has been working to import the cooperative network’s model of workplace democracy into some American pilot programs.

We're Not a Center-Right Nation

A recent study confirms this writ large. While many Americans will still label themselves "conservatives," when asked whether they support policies without labels being placed on them, generally speaking, they tend to support the progressive agenda:

We’ve been through roughly two years of successive battles over taxes and spending — first over the Bush tax cuts, then the so-called “fiscal cliff,” then the “sequester” and, soon, the federal budget — and throughout each of those skirmishes politicians on both sides of the aisle have insisted that we must cut spending and reform ‘entitlements.” But polls show consistently that most voters don’t want those things. Vast majorities of Americans think spending cuts will hurt the economy, want to reduce the deficit through a mix of tax increases and spending cuts and want to preserve funding for cherished social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security.

So why do politicians seem convinced that the American people want austerity? A fascinating new working paper published this week by two political science graduate students may offer an answer: Politicians tend to vastly overestimate just how conservative their constituents really are. The paper, co-authored by Christopher Skovron of the University of Michigan and David Broockman of the University of California Berkeley, finds that conservative politicians in particular are terrible at gauging the political views of their constituents. For example, they tend to underestimate support for policies like universal health care and same-sex marriage by as much as 20 percentage points. Liberal politicians underestimate support for those policies, too, but not by nearly as much.

The authors report this especially stunning distillation of their findings: “Nearly half of sitting conservative officeholders appear to believe that they represent a district that is more conservative on these issues than the most conservative legislative district in the entire country.”

This is from 2011, but it takes into consideration surveys from 1999 and 2005 too.  It really hasn't changed.  I challenge anyone to find any other issue on which more Americans agree.  Nobody wants Social Security and Medicare benefits to be cut.  Doing so is political suicide.
Public Wants Changes in Entitlements, Not Changes in Benefits
GOP Divided Over Benefit Reductions

As with Medicare, an overwhelming majority (87%) says that Social Security has been good for the country. At the same time, however, just 39% say it does an excellent or good job serving the people it covers and only 18% say the program is in excellent or good financial condition. There is little variation in these evaluations by party, but Republicans and Democrats differ in their views about the program’s future.
Most Americans say avoiding future cuts to the program is more important than avoiding increases in Social Security taxes for workers and employers (by 56% to 33%). Two-thirds of Democrats (67%) say avoiding benefit cuts is more important; that compares with 55% of independents and 49% of Republicans.

This is the 2010 blog post that caused the president's lawyers to go back and rewrite the white paper, which was a justification for killing Awlaki, but the references to Awlaki were redacted before it was leaked to the public.  Yesterday's NYT article confirms that the drone strike that killed Awlaki was done by the CIA, a civilian agency.
Let’s Call Killing al-Awlaki What It Is — Murder

The Obama administration has been savagely criticized for authorizing the CIA to use lethal force against Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen who is allegedly a member of al-Qaeda in Yemen.  Glenn Greewald, for example, has described the decision — justifiably — as “unbelievably Orwellian and tyrannical.”  To date, however, critics have ignored what I think is perhaps the most important point: An American who kills an American outside of the United States is guilty of murder.  Not political murder.  Not figurative murder.  Legal murder.
18 USC 1119:

(a) Definition.— In this section, “national of the United States” has the meaning stated in section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(22)).
(b) Offense.— A person who, being a national of the United States, kills or attempts to kill a national of the United States while such national is outside the United States but within the jurisdiction of another country shall be punished as provided under sections 1111, 1112, and 1113.
The foreign-murder statute has to be the starting point of any analysis of the Obama adminstration’s decision to authorize the CIA to kill al-Awlaki.  If the CIA does kill him — and even if it doesn’t; see below — any CIA operative involved in the killing who is American is presumptively a murderer.  The only questions would be (1) whether for some reason 18 USC 1119 would not apply, and (2) whether the CIA operative would have a plausible defense if he was charged with murder in federal court.
And a brand new one from the same person, Heller.
Why the “Public Authority” Defense Does Not Work for the CIA

In this post, I want to discuss the part of the White Paper that seems to be motivated by the questions I raised in my 2010 post — Part III, which argues that killing a US citizen abroad who qualifies as a senior operational leader in al-Qaeda or its associated forces would not be murder because the individual responsible for the killing would be entitled to a public-authority defense.
But that is not the end of the inquiry, for one simple reason: al-Awlaki was killed by the CIA, not by the US military. The White Paper does not discuss whether a CIA drone operator would be entitled to a public-authority defense in a prosecution under the foreign-murder statute; indeed, all of the sources cited in III.C regarding the defense (p. 14) — three classic criminal-law treatises and an old state case — claim that the laws of war entitle a soldier to kill the enemy. They say nothing about the right of anyone else to kill.
So would a CIA drone operator be entitled to a public-authority defense? I don’t see how.

DHS-HSI Homeland Security Investigations El Paso SRT MRAP Armored Vehicle

The MRAP featured in this video is was in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Law Enforcement Day which was held at a local area Target Store. This MRAP is stationed in El Paso, Texas at The Homeland Security Investigations Office. MRAP is a Mine Resistant Armor Protected Vehicle

Homeland Security Investigations has 26 Special Agent in Charge (SAC) principal field offices throughout the United States. The SAC offices are responsible for the administration and management of all investigative and enforcement activities within the geographic boundaries of the office. The SACs develop, coordinate, and implement enforcement strategies to ensure conformance with national policies and procedures and to support national intelligence programs. SACs coordinate law enforcement activities with the highest level of Federal, state, and local governments, as well as intelligence organizations and international law enforcement entities. In addition, SACs supervise all administrative responsibilities assigned to the office and ensure a responsive Internal Controls Program is developed.

To efficiently manage their designated geographic regions, SAC offices maintain various subordinate field offices throughout their areas of responsibility, which support the enforcement mission. These subordinate field offices, Deputy Special Agents in Charge (DSAC), Assistant Special Agents in Charge (ASAC), Resident Agents in Charge (RAC) and Resident Agents (RA), are responsible for managing enforcement activities within the geographic boundaries of the office


Blogathon and Twitterfest coming soon to DailyKos, starting March 25th.
You will recognize a lot of the names writing posts for it -- names you know from What's Happenin' and some nationally recognized names like Howard Dean and Dean Baker.

"Hands Off My Social Security"

"Social not a dole or a device for giving everybody something for nothing. True Social Security must consist of rights which are earned rights -- guaranteed by the law of the land."
-- Harry S. Truman, August 13, 1945

Link - feel free to post on your Facebook pages.

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Evening Blues
George Galloway: No lessons learned, so Iraqis will not be the last victims of the Iraq war
US Foreign Policy, We're the Cops of the world
Keystone XL: Will the State Department's shameful dishonesty become Obama's climate legacy?
US Foreign Policy, We're the Cops of the world
Crossing Over - Documentary on transgender immigration
Chief of Iraq Torture Commandos: "The Americans knew about everything I did"

Bruce Springsteen w. Billy Joel - New York State of Mind - Madison Square Garden - 2009/10/29&30
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