Thursday, June 27, 2013

Roger Kimball on UK's Pamela Geller Travel Ban
A spokesman for the Home Office welcomed the ban on Geller and Spencer, explaining: “The UK should never become a stage for inflammatory speakers who promote hate.” Hmm — “Who promote hate.” Query: do Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer “promote hate”?  Or is that just a rhetorical epithet employed by ideologues bent on advancing a certain politically correct agenda in order to stifle criticism? (Another question: what is a “hate crime”? Is a crime more of a crime because it was committed by someone who dislikes the victim? Or is it like the term “social justice,” a piece of rhetorical legerdemain intended to lend gravity to a noun by the act of prefacing an emotionally charged but irrelevant adjective?)
The point is that the metabolism of liberal democracy depends upon the free exchange of ideas, which means, in part, a vigorous circulation of competing ideas. No less a figure than John Stuart Mill, in On Liberty, pointed out: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” There is plenty to criticize in Mill, heaven knows (and I’ve done my bitto criticize him), but he was surely right that liberal democracy depends in part upon fostering the “collision” of competing ideas.
The irony of the situation is rich. Geller and Spencer speak out against the intolerance of Islam. Got that? They speak. They lecture. They write books. Spencer’s written a shelf of them. Geller was behind a campaign to place “defeat jihad” posters in New York subways. One of the reasons they were traveling to the UK was to participate in a commemorative ceremony for Drummer Lee Rigby. Remember him? He was the chap who, last month, was walking down a street in Woolwich when two Muslims ran him down in a car and then stabbed and hacked him to death with knives and a cleaver. Like the Earl of Stratford, their motto was “thorough.” When these partisans of the religion of peace got through with him, he had to be identified by dental records.
Geller and Spencer are denied entry to the UK. Quoth a government spokesman: individuals whose presence “is not conducive to the public good” may be denied entry by the Home Secretary. He explained: “We condemn all those whose behaviours and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.”
That pretty much covers the waterfront, doesn’t it? Disagree with me and I’ll have you named an enemy of the state.

Mark Steyn on UK's Pamela Geller Travel Ban

1) A few weeks ago, I wrote about a Canadian police department’s diversity enforcer attempt to shut down a Pamela Geller speech by getting her bounced from a Toronto synagogue. In Britain, the shut-up-he-explained crowd cut to the chase: They went to the (supposedly Conservative) Home Secretary, the ghastly Theresa May, and got Miss Geller and Robert Spencer banned from the entire country on the grounds that their presence in the United Kingdom would not be “conducive to the public good“.

By contrast, the presence of, say, Anjem Choudary, philosophical mentor of the Woolwich head hackers and a man who calls for the murder of the Prime Minister, is so “conducive to the public good” that British taxpayers subsidize him generously and provide a half-million-dollar home for him to live on. Mrs May’s Home Office has just admitted to the UK Muhhamed al-Arefe who advocates wife-beating. Perhaps Mr May will try out Imam al-Arefe’s expert advice on the beneficial effects of “light beating” on Theresa this weekend – or is spousal abuse only “conducive to the public good” of Muslim women?

The reflexive illiberalism of Britain’s so-called liberals – the urge to ban the debate rather than win it – is now so deeply ingrained they will soon be hungry for new victories. Nearly four centuries after Milton’s Areopagitica, freedom of speech is dead in England. In denying her charges access to dissenting ideas, Mrs May is inviting them to find alternative means of expression. No good will come from this.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Michael Savage on Edward Snowden

Sen. Mike Gravel on Edward Snowden

From the Huffington Post:

Gravel served in counter-intelligence in Europe while in the military, and said that the "cult of secrecy" has gotten out of the control of the public. "I can understand [Wikileaks leaker Bradley] Manning and Snowden and admire them both," he said. "They have started a dialogue and they're going to pay a price for it."
...Gravel said that if successful, the prosecution of Manning and possibly Snowden would give the Justice Department the Espionage Act victory that eluded it in the government's case against Ellsberg in the '70s...
"I don't know why mainstream media hasn't woken up," said Gravel. "If it's a crime for Wikileaks to do it, if it's a crime for Manning to do it, if it's a crime for Snowden to do it, what about The Washington Post [which] revealed some of the stuff from Snowden?" 

Daniel Ellsberg on Edward Snowden

From the Huffington Post: 
Speaking from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ellsberg, 82, told HuffPost Live hosts Ahmed Shihab-Eldin and Josh Zepps that he, Snowden and accused WikiLeaks leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning "chose to give priority to our oath to defend and support the Constitution, rather than our promise to keep secrets for our boss or for our agency, when those secrets were concealing evidence that the Constitution was being violated."
...Ellsberg, who faced 12 felony counts for leaking the Pentagon Papers -- charges which were ultimately dropped -- said that Snowden "made the right choice." Ellsberg called PRISM, the program that allegedly collects user data from large technology companies like Google, Yahoo! and Facebook, as well as the NSA's broad collection of American's telephone records, "clearly unconstitutional."

Pamela Geller on Edward Snowden

Of course, you didn't have to tell us this. If you don't toe the party line, you're most probably under surveillance. If you are a jihadist, carry on. Obama is spying on twenty million Americans whose crime was to oppose his coming totalitarianism.
Why else would the NSA and FBI refuse to surveil the Boston jihadists after we were warned of their devout extremism by not one but two foreign countries? Or the Fort Hood jihadi, Nidal Hasan, who came out as a jihadist on grand rounds and was emailing Anwar Awlaki concerning his plans to commit mass murder?
We are under siege, America.
U.S. Surveillance Is Not Aimed at Terrorists 
The debate over the U.S. government’s monitoring of digital communications suggests that Americans are willing to allow it as long as it is genuinely targeted at terrorists. What they fail to realize is that the surveillance systems are best suited for gathering information on law-abiding citizens.
People concerned with online privacy tend to calm down when told that the government can record their calls or read their e-mail only under special circumstances and with proper court orders. The assumption is that they have nothing to worry about unless they are terrorists or correspond with the wrong people.
The infrastructure set up by the National Security Agency, however, may only be good for gathering information on the stupidest, lowest-ranking of terrorists. The Prism surveillance program focuses on access to the servers of America’s largest Internet companies, which support such popular services as Skype, Gmail and iCloud. These are not the services that truly dangerous elements typically use.

Doug Wead on Edward Snowden

From WorldNet Daily
So two questions remain: Isn’t the government taking a risk that by running Snowden into the ground they will only make him a hero?
It is clear that Snowden did not expect to be on the run. Did he really think he could escape from a government who has everyone’s emails and phone conversations stored away? Did he think that any corporation or ambassador or head of state or government in the world would stand before such a power? This treasure trove of data is the new atomic bomb, and America has it. No one else. We rule the world. Or perhaps, I should say that Barack Obama and his successor rule the world.
Poor Edward Snowden. Running to Hong Kong and then Moscow will only help the government paint him as a bad guy, a traitor to America. He imagined that people in American really believed in the Constitution or in a government of laws. He thought we would care about the fact that our government leaders lie to Congress and the media. He imagined that we still have a free press, who can write and say what they believe, without direction from corporate owners who, like druggies in the inner city, now depend totally on government subsidies and easy Fed loans to sustain their empires.
There is a simple answer to that one. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what any of us say. They have the new WMD. They don’t need to control everybody. There are plenty who will fall all over themselves to get in their good graces and say and do whatever they think the government wants, just to avoid the inconvenience of an IRS audit or a criminal investigation based on their emails and phone calls. So the government will risk Edward Snowden’s martyrdom.
Why? Because the government has even more secrets to hide. It fears another Snowden among its 4.2 million top-secret-cleared employees. They have to make his life so miserable that no one else will dare speak up.
And finally, one last thing remains to be known. If Edward Snowden is a spy, not a whistleblower, then for whom has he been spying? Russia? China? North Korea? Islamic fundamentalists?
No. He has been spying for us, the American people. He is our spy. He is the first American spy to be prosecuted by an American government. They will get him. And he will be locked away, and after the furor dies down, he may even be tortured by our government. He is like a Buddhist monk in Vietnam in the 1960s setting himself ablaze, signaling to the world that something is wrong here. He is a Paul Revere with an alarming message: “The government is coming, the government is coming.”

Read more at 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak on Edward Snowden

In The Guardian (UK):

The Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has backed NSA whistleblowerEdward Snowden and admitted he feels "a little bit guilty" that new technologies had introduced new ways for governments to monitor people.
"I felt about Edward Snowden the same way I felt about Daniel Ellsberg, who changed my life, who taught me a lot," he said.
Speaking to Piers Morgan on CNN he said he was not the kind of person to "just take sides in the world – 'I'm always against anything government, any three letter agency,' or 'I'm for them'."
But he added: "Read the facts: it's government of, by and for the people. We own the government; we are the ones who pay for it and then we discover something that our money is being used for – that just can't be, that level of crime."
When Morgan suggested the government would not be able to keep such a close eye on citizens without the work of innovators like him, Wozniak acknowledged: "I actually feel a little guilty about that – but not totally. We created the computers to free the people up, give them instant communication anywhere in the world; any thought you had, you could share freely. That it was going to overcome a lot of the government restrictions.
"We didn't realise that in the digital world there were a lot of ways to use the digital technology to control us, to snoop on us, to make things possible that weren't. In the old days of mailing letters, you licked it, and when you got an envelope that was still sealed, nobody had seen it; you had private communication. Now they say, because it's email, it cannot be private; anyone can listen."
Asked about US surveillance programmes in an earlier interview with a Spanish technology news site, FayerWayer, Wozniak said: "All these things about the constitution, that made us so good as people – they are kind of nothing.
"They are all dissolved with the Patriot Act. There are all these laws that just say 'we can secretly call anything terrorism and do anything we want, without the rights of courts to get in and say you are doing wrong things'. There's not even a free open court any more. Read the constitution. I don't know how this stuff happened. It's so clear what the constitution says."
He said he had been brought up to believe that "communist Russia was so bad because they followed their people, they snooped on them, they arrested them, they put them in secret prisons, they disappeared them – these kinds of things were part of Russia. We are getting more and more like that."

Monday, June 24, 2013

An Open Letter to WebGuard Customer Care

Dear Webguard:

I have just gotten off the phone with Lucas W. (he would not disclose his last name), T-Mobile ID # 1241773, floor manager for customer service, and cancelled my WebGuard service.

The reason is that both RefugeeResettlementWatch and FrontPageMag were blocked as inappropriate content by Webguard at all levels: Child, Teen, and Young Adult.

However, both sites are simply news and commentary sites critical of the Obama administration. They are not porn sites. There is no issue of child protection involved.

Lucas told me the process by which sites are chosen to be blocked is known only to WebGuard, and that I would have to ask you for the explanation. He said he could not forward a complaint from T-mobile to Webguard, even though T-Mobile had a contract with WebGuard. 

So please be advised that I found the categorizations and blockage as age inappropriate to be damaging, defamatory, false and fraudulent regarding the websites...and bad for business for T-Mobile--because on its face the blockage appears to be based on political correctness rather than child protection, and leads to the loss of customers. 

For example, I cancelled WebGuard because of this problem, and told T-Mobile they should look for another provider of web-filtering services.

Therefore, I respectfully ask that you tell me why these sites were blocked, provide me a list of criteria used by WebGuard to block sites, and explain the methodology for site evaluation, including steps taken by WebGuard to insure against political censorship.

Thank you.

Laurence A. Jarvik, Ph.D.

Sent from my iPad

UPDATE July 2nd 2013. This just in:

Hi Laurence Jarvik,, has nothing to do with T-Mobile. does vulnerability scans of websites
Please contact T-mobile directly.

If you need a great scan on your website, try our free scan.

WebGuard support

Angelo Codevilla on Edward Snowden

From Barack Obama to Karl Rove, the ruling class is in unison: The NSA’s collection of data on virtually all Americans is essential to preventing you from “being blown to smithereens on your morning commute” – as the Wall Street Journal editorial put it.  In the words of General Keith Alexander, director of NSA, this surveillance has “helped to prevent” “dozens of terrorist events.” Later, the tally rose to “over fifty.”  Project Constant Informant, which tracks essentially all American phone calls, allows matching the account holder’s identity with each call’s precise location in time and place. Another, PRISM, gives access to all records of email, chat, photos, videos and file transfers from the servers of leading US internet companies. These programs stand between Americans and terrorists. Worries that they will be misused are misplaced or downright kooky.
This chorus’ authority depends on ignorance. Here are the facts.
Since our Intelligence agencies have an unbroken history of crowing about even tiny successes, using finely parsed assertions with zero evidence to impute multiple triumphs to programs publicized by a leak is prima facie evidence of insincerity. When (rarely) independent persons look behind such claims, they almost invariably find the Wizard of Oz.  More important, anyone who has followed telecommunication technology and intelligence during the past three decades can only scoff at the claim that universal collection of telephone externals and access to internet traffic can thwart serious criminals or terrorists.
In fact, the expansion of the US government’s capacity to intrude on innocent communications happened just as technology enabled competent persons who intend to hide their communications to do so without fail. This means that the US government’s vast apparatus is almost completely useless against serious terrorists or criminals, and useful primarily to do whatever the government might choose to innocent persons.
In sum: Ever since the 1970s, the art of code-making has surpassed the art of code-breaking – period. Hence, on the high end, anyone can purchase voice and internet communications software that are beyond the capacity of anyone to access without an electronic key. On the low end, anyone with a few hundred dollars can buy dozens of pre paid cell phones, each to be used to make or receive a single call and then be thrown away. NSA’s million square-foot facility in Utah, and all the antennas and computers in the world, are useless against that.
So, why has the US government invested hundreds of billions of high technology in these ventures? Inertia is the least of reasons. Despite the last sixty years’ vast changes in technology, the US government never departed from the World War II model of electronic intelligence: Collect everything you can and sort the wheat from the chaff. But, as noted, unfocused collection now yields only chaff. Forensic analysis is a partial exception. For example, an analyst in possession of telephone externals data from people who have taken no countermeasures and who have made calls while committing an act known to the analyst can reconstruct their movements and even identify them.
The fundamental reason however is the US government’s reluctance to make and stand behind judgments about who, specifically, may be legitimate targets of investigation. If collection is universal, the collectors don’t have to explain to others (or even to themselves) why they are targeting this person or group and not another. Possessing the data in secret, they can then decide in secret who they are really interested in. That flight from responsibility is also why, in 1978, the intelligence agencies pressed Congress to pass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), under which the agencies submit their requests for detailed targeting, in secret, to a court that decidesex parte and in secret.
In sum: the aftermath of 9/11, technology, inertia, and allergy to accountability gave the US government the capacity to capture and examine at will well nigh the whole electronic realm. It would very much like to do the protective job that President Obama and Karl Rove claim and may even believe it is doing. But there is no evidence that anyone has figured out how to sidestep the realities that prevent that.
It is not speculation to expect that these powers will be used for what they are indeed useful. To recapitulate: “Constant Informant” can find patterns of communication between people who are not trying to mask them, while PRISM makes everyone’s cyber activity accessible. This allows the US government to pick and choose and build cases for any reason against any person on whom it has such data. From Obama to Rove, our ruling class denies any intention of doing that. They cite the fact that focusing all that data onto on individuals is subject to approval by the FISA court.
But that court acts not just in secret, but ex parte – hearing only one side. FISA was intended to be a rubber stamp, and has been one. To anyone’s knowledge, it has never turned down any of the government’s thousands of applications.  It will continue to be a rubber stamp because there are no judicial criteria for what is and is not a legitimate national security concern.
The relevant question about the uses of the NSA programs, then, is simply “against whom, in the broad American public, is the US government likely to turn its animus? Alas, the ruling class has shown itself all too able to treat domestic opponents as public enemies. But that is another story.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Barry Rubin on Edward Snowden

Q: What do the National Security Agency surveillance leaks --- Edward Snowden on the run – look like to you, from afar? 

A: As I’ve written, the main angle I have tried to show is that this is not the way to handle a counterterrorist policy. It really looks as if terrorism is an excuse for gathering information on U.S. citizens. This NSA approach is like the TSA approach to airport security: pretend that everyone needs surveillance rather than using profiles to focus on the likely threats. '

Wikileaks Press Release on Edward Snowden

Sunday June 23, 17:50 BST

Mr Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who exposed evidence of a global surveillance regime conducted by US and UK intelligence agencies, has left Hong Kong legally. He is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.
Mr Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr Snowden arrives in Ecuador his request will be formally processed.
Former Spanish Judge Mr Baltasar Garzon, legal director of Wikileaks and lawyer for Julian Assange has made the following statement:
"The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person. What is being done to Mr Snowden and to Mr Julian Assange - for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest - is an assault against the people".

Peter Van Buren on Edward Snowden

We Meant Well on Edward Snowden:

The Washington Post published “Five ways to stop the NSA from spying on you,” a set of how-to tips for the average public to use Tor, remove the battery from your smart phone to prevent tracking and some software for private phone calls. It is not comprehensive, but it would serve as a guide to learning more.

Leaving aside the question of whether any of these methods work, has it come to this? A major newspaper publishing tips on how you can make it harder for your own government to spy on you?

The Fourth Amendment clearly states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Read it again: no exceptions, no free pass for terrorism, no provision for secret courts.

Read it again: No allowances for blanket vacuuming up of all internet media for all persons. The Fourth unambiguously requires that a warrant be issued that includes the name of the person and things to be seized.

The National Security Agency acknowledged that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls. Meanwhile, a constitutional law professor who is not Barack Obama schools you on why the NSA surveillance is unconstitutional. As Snowden left for Russia, the U.S. had the nerve to lecture Hong Kong about following the rule of law.

Here’s what happened one time ago when the government went looking into someone with nothing to hide.

We have fallen and can’t get up.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Barry Rubin on Insane American Foreign Policy

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Eliyho Matz on the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Peter Bergson's 1943 Washington Campaign


                                                                        Great Barrington, MA
                                                                        April 2013

                        In every serious philosophical question uncertainty extends to
                        the very roots of the problem.
                        We must always be prepared to learn something totally new.
                                                                                                Ludwig Wittgenstein
                                                                                                Remarks on Color

            My mother, Zahava, just passed away in Israel.  She was 100-years-old.  Even though her last fifteen years were rough and miserable as a result of illness, she had at least fifty good years in Israel; fifty years of trying to become an Israeli.  She did not exactly become one, but I, her son Eliyho, did become one, although I now live in America.  During WWII, she and my dad, Moshe, managed to run away from their home in Eastern Europe to the far east of the Soviet Union.  There, she worked in a military hospital, while my dad joined the Russian military where he eventually became the commander of a platoon of sharpshooters.  In 1945, his military unit was at the gates of Berlin.  Part of his Russian military march to Berlin was done by foot.  (As a result of it, his son Eliyho has flat feet!)  From Berlin, he returned to the far eastern region of Russia to reunite with Zahava.  From there, my parents made their way to Israel.  They settled in Rishonlezion, where I grew up.

            What does this story about my parents have to do with Washington, DC?  Now, I have to explain.  Ever since my childhood, I used to get into trouble, and my mother, Zahava, often had to protect me from getting into all sorts of dangerous situations.  Both my parents had to deal with this restless, difficult child.  At the age of sixteen I finally left home and went to a kibbutz in the far north of Israel, and I returned home only after completing my crazy military service a few years later.  Next, I went to work for a year in the Sinai Desert, where I almost got killed near the Suez Canal.  The only reflection I have of this experience at the Suez Canal is summed up in a story I heard from Abram Sorramello, the Israeli horse-and-buggy owner who became a famous folklorist:

            Two Egyptian soldiers were caught by their commander spying for
            Israel.  The Egyptian commander instructed his sergeant to hang them
            on a eucalyptus tree hanging over the Suez Canal.  The sergeant, who
            had just eaten lunch with them and was their friend, loosened the rope.
             As a result, when he hanged the first soldier the rope slipped, allowing
             the soldier to fall into the water and swim to freedom on the Israeli
            side.  When the second soldier saw what happened, he begged the
             sergeant not to do the same thing to him, because he did not know
            how to swim!

I happened to meet the first soldier….

            Finally, in October 1972, I entered the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  My stay at the University was short-lived; before the end of 1973 I rejoined my military unit to participate in the Yom Kippur War.  Our mission was to observe the Israeli activities on the Suez Canal.  When I finally returned to the University in April, 1974, I had by then lost interest in continuing my studies in Jerusalem.  So I left for America.  Once established, I met Hillel Kook – that was where my real troubles began, and actually never ended, and I am only sixty-five years old by now!

            Most Israelis do not know, or simply have forgotten, many issues relating to the creation of the Israeli nation.  This story is evolving, and will be developing in the years to come.  In the meantime, I will try to explain, as best as I know or remember, some of the more complex aspects of the history of the birth of Israel.   

            We have all heard about the Holocaust and the extermination of European Jews by the Nazis during WWII.  This topic engulfs Israeli society today, and its repercussions inflict enormous damage on the Israeli people.  The fact is, during the Holocaust years, the Palestinian Jewish leadership, though concerned about Jewish lives, did very to save or help the victims.  I hope this does not surprise anybody, or confuse the subject matter.  Ben Gurion, who, contrary to what most people think, was probably among the worst Jewish leaders in modern times, along with his confidants, almost ignored the plight of European Jews.  However, after the Holocaust, he and the Israeli leadership jumped on the Holocaust wagon and started all kinds of memorials and other theatrical exercises to memorialize the Holocaust and its “Heroism.”  As part of this effort, state institutions created educational tools, and thus the whole Israeli nation became involved in the memory business, or rather what one might call the “Holocaust business.”  Israeli ideas on this subject have penetrated into every nation in the world and every television station, and supposedly the world now knows more than it needs to know about the Holocaust event.  But the Israeli perspective and interpretation of the Holocaust are misleading, and historically inaccurate.  Perhaps the reader has already grasped Eliyho Matz’s conflicts and problems resulting from the above interpretation.

            Well, as an Israeli kid, I accepted the official Israeli explanation of the Holocaust, but I did meditate on these events since I was a child, a child of parents who lost most of their family in that event.  But then, I came to America in 1974, and I soon encountered Hillel Kook, better known in the US as Peter Bergson.  I will never forget my first meeting with him in Manhattan.  This individual was so angry with me, he actually came very close to asking me to leave his office.  His anger came from his deep frustration; he said that basically all he ever met were ignorant Israelis, and he figured I was just another one of them.  Perhaps at the time I was.  It took him awhile to cool off from his anger.  When I offered him some documents he had never seen before on American Jewish leadership and the Holocaust that I had found in my research, he finally realized that I had done some research and was attempting to understand the subject matter.  I had given him some new hope that finally someone was making an honest attempt to tackle the subject matter.  Kook was mentally worn down by his frustrations.  I stayed on working with him for at least ten years.  During those years, I tried to understand the reaction of Jewish leadership to the Holocaust.  It was not a pleasant story.  The Israelis have diverted the focus of Holocaust understanding by teaching the heroic events of the Warsaw Ghetto: that is, focusing on the heroism of a few of the victims -- most of this story is a historical fraud, and sadly a story that cannot teach anything about Jewish survival.  But this is the Israeli story.

            As opposed to the Israeli story, my story is an attempt to explain what happened to Hillel Kook during the year 1943 in Washington, DC.  It is not such a pleasant story to hear, and not one without complexity.  But again I am not heeding the warnings of my mom that often replay in my head, my mom who died a few weeks ago and who had always warned me and tried to protect me from unseen danger.  Rather, I am telling the facts as I can best reconstruct them, for the benefit of future generations.

            Hillel Kook, a.k.a. Peter Bergson, came from Europe in 1940 via Warsaw, via Jerusalem, to New York.  In his early twenties, he was already a senior commander in the Palestinian Jewish underground and one of the leading individuals in the Irgun Zvai Leumi.  His arrival in American created a storm among some of his friends and supporters of the Irgun in America.  He arrived poor, not connected, and unable to speak English well.  While in America he overcame those three obstacles.  How he did so is worth a movie or two.  The focus of my story will be his activities between November, 1942, when he first heard in Washington, DC, the official announcement confirming the news of the extermination of European Jews, and his raising of the Israeli flag in Washington in early 1944 (four years before the establishment of an Israeli nation).   

By November 1942, Hillel Kook was very familiar with many of the Representatives and Senators in the US Congress, as well as with many officials in the State Department, the War Department and the Interior Department, and scores of other government officials working in Washington.  The news of the Holocaust arrived in Washington in the middle of July, 1942, and was confirmed by the US government in November 1942.  The period between November, 1942, and May, 1944, represented Hillel Kook’s finest hours.  One must recognize that he was the leader who responded to the Nazi atrocities in the US capital.  His activities began in New York City, where, with the help of playwright Ben Hecht, he managed to organize a pageant called, “We Will Never Die,” which was performed later in other cities around America.  The purpose of this pageant was to bring to the public eye the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jews.  Later on, in July, 1943, he organized a conference in New York City that was attended by many important Americans and dealt with options of how to save European Jews.  By mid-1943, it became clear to Kook that in order to save European Jews, he needed the support of the American government, so his next move was to try to convince Congress.  Congressman Will Rogers, Jr., a Democrat from California, along with several other Congressman and Senators, became interested in backing a resolution that would call for the US Government to enter into the business of rescue.  As part of this effort,  Will Rogers, Jr., a descendant of Cherokee Indians, flew to London in late 1943 to explore possibilities with the British on how to save Jews.  But he came back disappointed.  It was clear to Kook from early November 1942, that unless the US government became actively involved in saving Jews, there would be little chance for any rescue.  Backed by allies in Congress as well as friends in the Treasury, State and War Departments, Kook worked ceaselessly to place pressure on the FDR Administration to act on behalf of European Jews.  In retrospective analysis of his activities, one must recognize Kook’s enormous energy and determination to do the right thing to save Jews.  With great difficulties Kook convinced Orthodox Jewish rabbis to come and protest in Washington on the eve of Yom Kippur in 1943.  In that case, he had to invoke his uncle’s name (Rabbi A. Kook) and put all sorts of pressure on those Orthodox rabbis.  Today, Orthodox Jewish leaders praise that event, but as Hillel told me, it was one heck of an effort to convince them.   

Despite enormous efforts, FDR was not yet convinced.  At the time of the War, his closest advisors were American Jews.  The Zionists in America were receiving their cues from Ben Gurion: not only were they not taking much action themselves toward rescue, but they were also creating Congressional obstacles behind Kook’s efforts to exact pressure for government action to save Jews.  Sol Bloom, a Zionist Jewish Congressman from NY, along with distinguished Reform Rabbi Stephan Wise, both pressured to kill the resolution in Congress.  I hope that, with the distance of seventy years, American Jews take note of this today.   

As a member of the Jewish Palestinian underground, Kook also had to deal with a number of issues happening in Palestine.  Towards the middle of 1943, he sent Irgun member Arie Ben Eliezer to Palestine to reorganize the collapsing Irgun.  During this year of terrible tragedy for European Jews, Kook also thought about the future of a Hebrew Republic in Palestine, later called the Israeli nation, and today being attempted to be called the Jewish nation.  Kook purchased a building in Washington, and in May, 1944, he boldly raised the flag of the future Israeli nation on the front porch.  One would think that smart Israelis, or sophisticated American Jews, would pay attention to their past history and might reach some constructive conclusion surrounding these past events.  Regrettably, that has not yet been the case.  Monuments of Hillel Kook are no where to be found; his name does not appear in the history books; his activities are unknown to the majority of Israelis and American Jews.

            My mom, who raised me, always warned me against getting into trouble.  I guess I did not listen to her.  I have not been able to stop telling this story of the revolt in Washington.  Mom, I hope you forgive me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Don't Find Snowden Guilty Before Trial...

I really must comment on the unholy number of pundits and politicians calling Edward Snowden a "traitor" before he has had his chance for a day in court.
The only honest answer is: It is too soon to tell.
The American people need to know what is going on before we can decide who to blame. Perhaps President Obama is at fault, and Snowden a hero of civil disobedience?
In my opinion, it is manifestly un-American to prejudge such a case before the defendant has had his day in court.
From what we know so far, Snowden was not motivated by a desire to help enemies of the United States, rather to call the attention of the American public to what he believed was unconstitutional (and therefore illegal, even if sanctioned by law) behavior by the NSA in violation of at least the First and Fourth Amendments in the Bill of Rights. He may have been naive, he may have been misguided, he may have broken his signed pledge of employment--or he may have been right. But nothing presented so far in any way suggests he is guilty of espionage--especially since his target audience was the American People.
The public right to know is a bedrock of democracy.
Without it, a representative democracy such as ours cannot function. Checks and balances become meaningless. Which is why the press had been seen as a "Fourth Estate" designed to keep the other three branches in check and balanced when they overreached.
To see Dick Cheney poke his cowardly head out from his undisclosed location--after he presided over 9/11, the worst attack on the US since Pearl Harbor, and then failed to defeat either Bin Laden or Al Qaeda despite eight years of warfare and trillions of dollars spent on his cronies (including appointing his daughter as head of US Public Relations in the State Department, at a time when the job required a professional with unimpeachable credibility)--is beyond irony. (BTW, Cheney also lost the Vietnam War.)
If anyone should be tried for treason, it might be Bush, Cheney, and the entire GOP establishment who literally let Al Qaeda get away with murder--and smeared the name of American democracy around the world by institutionalizing torture and concentration camps to no measurable effect. Every time I'm patted down or scanned at an airport, I think: "This is another small victory for Al Qaeda." Of course, Booz Allen has made a lot of money for its partners (and lost the Global War on Terror in the meantime). But I guess Booz is too big to is Dick Cheney--and Barack Obama.
Unfortunately, instead of changing course, the Obama administration transformed the Bush Doctrine of Islamist appeasement into an Obama Doctrine of Islamist collaboration.
Rather than Osama Bin Laden as capo di tutti cappi for worldwide Islamist fundamentalism, Obama seemed to take pride in that role, bumping off his minor rival...then giving a green light to Islamist takeovers across the Arab world. How anyone with a conscience could justify this policy in the name of human rights or democracy has been difficult to understand, but perhaps no one in the Obama administration has a conscience.
At this point, Vladimir Putin looks more humane than any American leader. A sad commentary.
Luckily, Edward Snowden does seem to have a conscience. Perhaps because he did not graduate from college and so was spared the Kool-aid of moral relativism and sophistry that has come to be called "higher education" in the United States since the arrival of Political Correctness. Snowden says he acted out of conscience, let us test that sentiment.
Perhaps he was wrong, perhaps he was right, but he deserves at the very least the decency of a trial and a defense before sentence is pronounced.
The rabid foaming of the mouth of the mad-dog Republican leadership of Boehner, McConnell and Cheney serves only to provide political cover for a corrupt and suspect administration that should be thoroughly investigated. Like Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden could bring down an administration through his courageous actions to call public attention to the historical record. If the GOP were a normal party, it would bring down the Obama administration over NSA spying on ordinary Americans and its support for Islamist terrorists--in Boston, in Syria, in Libya, in Chechnya and around the world.
Ironically, American dissidents like Snowden are now fleeing to China for freedom of speech, so degraded have our media, courts, and politics become by Bush and Obama administration policies.
Given the pathetic reaction in America to Snowden's stand, at this point, it seems that unless Rand Paul somehow becomes President in 2016, the USA may no longer remain either the land of the free, nor the home of the brave.

Peter Van Buren on US State Department Sleaze

We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People by Peter Van Buren
The reasons to care about this are many, and all the Hillary-love and attempts to just call it (just) a Republican witch hunt are a smokescreen. The obvious reason to care is that these people represent America abroad, and we need to ask what image they are projecting. In addition, such crimes and personal traits as alleged below make them vulnerable to blackmail, either by other members of the USG (promote me, give me a better assignment, or else…) or foreign intelligence (turn over the secrets or the photos go to the press). The fact that the organization apparently cannot police itself internally raises questions about competence (and the former SecState saying she was wholly ignorant of all this sludge is not a defense that actually makes her look presidential), and about what if anything it is accomplishing on America’s behalf. Here’s a roundup to date: – As a special shout-out to We Meant Well regulars, USA Today claims it has a memo detailing how Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, allegedly interceded in an investigation by Diplomatic Security into an affair between failed-Iraq ambassador-designate Brett McGurk and Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon. – Cheryl Mills again: Mills, a longtime confidante of Hillary, reportedly played a key role in the State Department’s damage-control efforts on the Benghazi attack last year and was also named in accusations that department higher-ups quashed investigations into diplomats’ potential criminal activity. Cheryl Mills, who served in a dual capacity in recent years as general counsel and chief of staff to Clinton, was accused of attempting to stifle congressional access to a diplomat who held a senior post in Libya at the time of the attack. – U.S. ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman accused of soliciting “sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children.” The ambassador “routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” according to documents obtained by NBC News. State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy ordered an end to the investigation. “The ambassador’s protective detail and the embassy’s surveillance detection team [Note: A State Department team that conducts counterespionage surveillance, watching State Department officials to see if they are being watched by foreign spies] . . . were well aware of the behavior.” The ambassador explained that sometimes he fights with his wife, needs air and he goes for a walk in the park because he likes it. The Atlantic reported that the park Gutman trolled, Parc Royal Warandepark, was well-known as a place to pick up adult homosexual and adolescent boy prostitutes. A Belgian newspaper described the park: “I see young children go to adult waiting. Later, another adult waits, often to extort money from the victim after. I’ve been awakened by cries and my terrace, I saw someone being beaten. I had my legs were shaking. Time to call the police, I saw the victim painfully get up and go.” – A State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” with foreign nationals hired as embassy guards. State’s former regional security officer in Beirut, Chuck Lisenbee, allegedly sexually assaulted guards and was accused of similar assaults in Baghdad, Khartoum and Monrovia. Justine Sincavage, then-director of Diplomatic Security Service, called the allegations a “witch hunt” and gave agents “only three days” to investigate, and no charges were brought, according to USA Today. – Members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries,” a problem the report says was “endemic.” Three members of Clinton’s security detail admitted to hiring prostitutes while on foreign trips and were given suspensions of one day. An investigator for Diplomatic Security launched an investigation into similar allegations against four other members of Clinton’s security detail but was ordered by Kimber Davidson, chief of the special investigations division, and Rob Kelty, his deputy, to shut down the investigation. – The State Department has hired an “alarming number of law-enforcement agents with criminal or checkered backgrounds” because of a flawed hiring process, a stunning memo obtained by The New York Post reveals. “Too many people entering the [Diplomatic Security and Information Management] communities end up as subjects of [Special Investigation Division] investigations and HR adjudications, become Giglio-impaired and can play only limited roles thereafter,” according to the memo. “Giglio” refers to a US Supreme Court case dealing with jury notification that witnesses have made deals with the government to induce testimony. Some Diplomatic Security field offices “have major problems just waiting to be discovered,” the memo adds. – In one case, aggressive interrogation techniques by Diplomatic Service agents “drove an employee to attempt suicide” when accused of raping his maid in Bangkok, Thailand, a memo suggests. “After “being told he would end up in a Thai prison, his wife would lose her job and his children would be pulled out of school, [the man] attempted suicide by jumping out of the 16th-story window at a hotel in Bangkok.” The guy lived, and was flown back to Washington for in-patient psychiatric care, where the agents continued to harass him. The rape charges were ultimately dropped. – The same Diplomatic Security memo cites eight cases involving Diplomatic Security agents who resorted to “false, misleading or incomplete statements in reports,” “privacy-act violations” or “lack of objectivity” in investigations. – Diplomatic security agents learned that James Combs, a senior diplomatic security agent in Baghdad and formerly of the DS Office of Professional Standards, was having an extramarital affair with a subordinate and had numerous affairs with men over a 30-year span without the knowledge of his wife. This presented “counterintelligence concerns,” but the investigation never reached a conclusion. – A security contractor in Baghdad died of an overdose of methadone, which he was taking to counteract an addiction to the painkiller oxycodone. An underground drug ring may have been supplying the drugs, but State’s regional security officer did not allow a special investigations agent to pursue that possibility. – In Miami, agents investigating a car accident by diplomatic security agent Evelyn Kittinger learned that she had been claiming full pay for several years “but had actually only worked very few hours.” State Department supervisors told the investigator to advise her to resign to avoid facing criminal charges and a major fine. – Another report states that a top State Department official stymied investigators trying to get to the bottom of four killings in Honduras involving DEA agents and local police. The incident ended in the deaths of two pregnant women and two men last year, after Honduran national police opened fire from a State Department-owned helicopter on a small boat. Honduran police said drugs were involved, but locals said the boat was full of fishermen. - See more at: