Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

US to focus on non-white homegrown extremists

Posted in Barack Obama, right-wing extremism, terrorism, United States, war, War on Terror by allisonkilkenny on May 27, 2010
PULASKI, TN - JULY 11: Fraternal White Knights...

Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Pastor Ken Gregg poses in his Klan robe. Image by Getty Images via @daylife

John Brennan, the deputy national security adviser for counter-terrorism and homeland security, has announced a new national security strategy that will focus on the threat posed by homegrown extremists. Except, the target of this strategy doesn’t seem to be all domestic terrorism, but rather domestic terrorism with foreign roots.

There has been a surge in right-wing extremism in the U.S., copiously documented by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, but which was also predicted by Homeland Security. In fact, the report warned that right-wing extremists, who are “angry at the economy and the election of a black president” might recruit GWOT veterans.

I have been writing about how white domestic terrorism has slipped from the media’s radar, but sadly, it seems like the government is also uninterested by the surge in right wing extremism — possibly because such violence doesn’t fit the helpful war narrative of the “dangerous other” being brown, and from a desert landscape.

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What is Obama supposed to do about BP’s disaster?

Posted in Barack Obama, energy, politics, United States by allisonkilkenny on May 26, 2010
WASHINGTON - MAY 11:  Environmental activists ...

Image by Getty Images North America via @daylife

John Cole expresses the view of, I think, many liberals on his blog today when he asked: what exactly is the Obama administration supposed to about the oil spill?

He asks this after acknowledging all the terrible things BP and the government have done (missed deadlines, hidden the size of the spill, issued more permits to drill,) while failing to address some other points (BP buying off spill victims, using toxic dispersants, which have been banned in the UK, against the orders of the EPA, racing up to Canada to try to get their country to deregulate, too, etc.)

Cole isn’t an apologist for private business run amok. He just sincerely wants to know: what the hell is Obama supposed to do about this?

But he’s already answered the question with his last peeve point — a realization Cole appears to have at the very end of the post. The Obama administration isstill issuing permits. Despite the catastrophe of the Gulf oil geyser, Obama wants to expand offshore drilling. The rationale for this is articulated byInterior Secretary Ken Salazaar.

“We should be honest with ourselves. … We are dependent on oil and gas and we will be,” Salazar told senators. “As an economy in transition, it’s something that we need to do.”

And of course, Obama concurs.

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The Law is Not a Fringe Issue

Posted in Barack Obama, Bush, law, politics, torture, war crimes by allisonkilkenny on April 30, 2009

abu-ghraib-torture-715244Barbara Herbert, a course director at Tufts University School of Medicine, made a short, but compelling plea in today’s New York Times. Herbert argued that the United States government should convene a truth and reconciliation commission, using the one in South Africa as a model, to investigate into possible crimes committed by the Bush administration. 

Such a commission would allow a nation to (a) find the truth of what happened from multiple perspectives, (b) develop an understanding of how it happened and (c) heal.

A commission isn’t some kind of partisan booby trap thrown together in a frenzied quest for retribution as Harry Reid suggested last week. The formation of a nonpartisan commission also wouldn’t  act as a nefarious tool to dismantle the foundation of The American Way (corrupting the sweet “mysteries” of life,) as Bush apologists like Peggy Noonan claim

A truth commission would use the law as a compass, and its only goal would be to restore order in America. As Herbert wrote, “We need a chance for secular redemption and healing.”

On Tuesday, Jeremy Scahill reported that Rep. John Conyers, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder officially requesting  the appointment of an independent Special Prosecutor to “to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute torture committed against detainees during the Bush administration.” In order to restore credibility to the Justice Department, Holder must adhere to the rule of law, and not partisan demands. He must investigate into possible crimes committed under the Bush administration.

The law is not a fringe issue. Progressives may be the ones demanding an investigative commission, but the issue at stake here is the law itself. That’s not a partisan issue. The law should be sacred to all Americans: Republicans and Democrats. And if Democrats are proven to have been complicit in torture, then they too must be punished according to the law. 

Otherwise, Americans will learn only one lesson: the law does not apply to our leaders. What a terrible lesson to teach young Americans.

Peggy Noonan, Shep Smith, and Jane Harman

Posted in Barack Obama, BTR, Bush, Citizen Radio, politics, war crimes by allisonkilkenny on April 29, 2009

Listen here: http://www.breakthruradio.com/index.php?show=6753

Citizen Radio discusses the human disaster known as Peggy Noonan, and her comments about not investigating Bush administration war crimes because life needs to remain “mysterious.” Wow.

Jamie talks about getting screamed at by a New Yorker at one of his Australia shows, and why Americans think they’re exceptional.

Jane Harman got busted trying to do AIPAC spies a solid, and she got caught by the very same wiretapping program she championed. Irony with a capital “I.”

Shepard Smith went crazy on FOX again, and Citizen Radio thinks that’s super!

Citizen Radio airs every Wednesday over on BTR, and episodes play 24/7 all week. Archived episodes here. Join us on Facebook!

Peggy Noonan Braces For Next Emotional Breakdown

Posted in Barack Obama, Bush, politics, torture by allisonkilkenny on April 25, 2009

john_wayne_toughThe American media has a shockingly short attention span and is prone to bouts of hysteria. Just as September 11th was a game changer that was the Event to Change All Events, so the media tells us that the economic downturn is the new Event to Change All Events. These are unprecedented times. The law must be cast aside in the name of our collective panic attack. Torture be damned! There’s no time for rules! 

We’ve been here before. We even have the same cheerleaders leading the frenzy. I wish I could dismiss people like Peggy Noonan as a silly blogger, but unfortunately she’s considered a “serious” political expert who frequently makes the rounds on Sunday morning panels. So her words are fair game for analysis. Here we go!

Peggy Noonan is a terrible columnist whose first response to tragic events is to rip open her shirt and throw herself at burly men who claim to have a “plan.” When there’s the slightest hint of an impending conflict, Noons practically shouts that she wants a penis inside of her. During the critical weeks after 9/11, she freely expressed her longing for John Wayne because he fits her image of one of those “burly men,” even though Wayne was a draft-dodging, woman-abusing drug addict. 

Now, the Noons chastises Democrats for not thinking critically enough, and falling victim to the “Leader Knows Best” syndrome under Obama’s reign. Fair enough, but Peggy Noonan can’t seriously be lecturing from a pedestal. This is the woman, who just said we shouldn’t investigate into possible war crimes because “some of life has to be mysterious,” and it’s important to “just keep walking.”

Noons opens her column citing the agenda-setter, Matt Drudge, who has sarcastically labeled Obama’s First One Hundred Days, the “Best President Ever Campaign,” something Noons describes being (my emphasis) “marked by an abandonment of critical thinking among otherwise thoughtful men and women who comprise, roughly speaking, the grown-ups of journalism, the old hands of the MSM who have been through many presidents and should know better.”

Sometimes, I wonder how Peggy Noonan doesn’t experience constant brain aneurisms from all of the cognitive dissonance rattling around in her head. Yes, Noons. We need critical thinking. We need investigations into the Bush torture memos. Bush officials need to be held accountable. We can’t just “keep walking.” You’re one of the grown-ups you’re writing about. Except, you’ve regressed to a childlike state (again,) and you’re trembling behind poppy’s legs. Grow up.

Suddenly, the Bush apologist is summarizing those glorious years of Bushie’s war as something that “angered major allies. For seven years there was constant agitation, and the world was allowed to make a caricature of U.S. leadership.” But wait, I thought the Noons loved caricatures. At least, she did in the wake of 9/11. She masturbates writes:

I missed John Wayne.

But now I think . . . he’s back. I think he returned on Sept. 11. I think he ran up the stairs, threw the kid over his back like a sack of potatoes, came back down and shoveled rubble. I think he’s in Afghanistan now, saying, with his slow swagger and simmering silence, “Yer in a whole lotta trouble now, Osama-boy.”

Make sure John doesn’t crack you across the face during one of his drunken stupors, Noons. You wouldn’t believe how fast the romance of saving you from a fictional burning building wears off. Now, Noons performs mental gymnastics to explain why we need critical thinking, but we mustn’t stir up too much trouble will any silly investigations. 

A problem with the release of the [torture memos] is that it opens the way—it probably forces the way—to congressional hearings, or a commission, or an independent prosecutor. It is hard at this point to imagine that what will follow will not prove destructive to—old-fashioned phrase coming—the good of the country.

Here we stare into the eyes of the beast. Yes, Noons. This very well could lead to independent prosecutions, and all kinds of truth-telling, and it could besmirch the names of men you’ve been shamelessly defending for close to a decade. And wouldn’t that be terrible for the country you?

It’s time all parties grow up and pay penance.

Noonology

Posted in Barack Obama, media, politics by allisonkilkenny on April 24, 2009

“Some things in life need to be mysterious,” Peggy Noonan explained. Americans needed the Noon’s guidance. You see, the unenlightened herd needs political elites to explain complicated and seemingly contradictory lessons in morality. Why is it okay if America tortures? Didn’t we sign that Geneva Conventions thingy? 

Nevermind. Aunt Peggy is here to explain away the bad thoughts. “Sometimes you need to just keep walking.” Indeed. 

Roger Cohen agrees, and as usual, wrote a succinct summation that would have made Hemingway blush at his own rambling oeuvre: “In a thicket of words lies plausible deniability when the time for horror’s accounting arrives.” Cohen translates a few paragraphs down: “I’m wary of the clamor for retribution.” Oh.

Senate Democratic leaders, teaming with the Obama White House, rushed to support the study of Noonology, and said they would resist efforts to investigate the harsh interrogation methods used on detainees. (Emphasis mine).

Mr. Reid, who repeatedly denounced the use of harsh interrogation techniques when Mr. Bush was president, suggested that naming a special panel would signal an intent to exact “retribution” and he sought to paper over the disagreement with members of his own caucus, like Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who want a commission.

Apparently, upholding the law is now a fringe issue. Those on the “hard left ” want accountability, and the serious beltway “journalists” want to “keep walking” away from “retribution” so as to maintain life’s sweet “mystery.”

Sweeping away the government’s crimes is no longer the behavior of apologist sycophants. It’s called Noonology, and now you can try it at home!

Got some unpaid parking tickets? Not a problem. You march right into your local courthouse, look that mean ole’ judge right in his beady eyes, and say, “I’m not paying these tickets! I’m moving forward!”

Just lost your job? Never fear! Go rob a convenient store. When the cops try to arrest you, explain they’re shattering life’s sweet mysteries by prosecuting you under the law.

Neighbor playing loud music? Shoot him!** If society, or “the man,” starts harassing you about murdering a human being, explain that retribution is pointless, and by trying to hold you accountable for your deeds, the cops are tearing at society’s very fabric.

Noonology (n): 

Main Entry: noon·o·lo·gy
Pronunciation: \ˈnün-ä-lə-jē\
Function: noun
Etymology: English, creation of a smartass blogger
Date: 2008
: the study of  juvenile, pathetically sycophantic individuals, who think the law was designed only for poor people, and it doesn’t apply to a corrupt oligarchy. 
peggynoonan1

** I’m kidding. You’ll totally go to jail because you don’t work for the government and so the law applies to you.

A Little Torture

Posted in Barack Obama, law, politics, prison, torture, War on Drugs by allisonkilkenny on April 17, 2009

justice“There is no such thing as a little torture.” — Alfred M. McCoy, author of A Question of Torture

The Bush administration is really an impressive force of nature. Whenever I was absolutely certain that their dastardly deeds couldn’t possibly get any more nefarious, Dick Cheney shot a family friend in the face, or George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to invade another country. When they finally left office, I assumed they couldn’t harm America’s reputation ever again.

I was wrong. The Justice Department finally made the infamous memos that sanctioned torture public this week. The details are horrific. Not only are barbaric measures like “walling” (slamming a person into a wall,) and stress positions deemed acceptable by legal experts, but also more inventive interrogation methods like placing live bugs in a confinement box (and telling the prisoner they’ll sting him). 

Politicians repeatedly regurgitate the fairy tale that America is a Nation of Laws. Except, the laws get broken all the time, and the archetypes of anarchy usually aren’t held accountable. Barack Obama has sought to reassure CIA operates, who participated in torture, that they can use the same defense Nazis could not use during Nuremberg. Namely, that they were just “following orders.”

This doesn’t bode well for justice enthusiasts, who hoped that maybe (just maybe) the Big Guys would be help accountable this time. That maybe John Yoo, Douglas Feith, Jay Bybee, Dick Cheney, David Addington, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and William Haynes would have to stand before the American people and explain why they thought sanctioning torture was acceptable.

That maybe they would finally have to explain why a little torture was okay.

We are a nation of laws only if the people in charge get to benefit from the rulings. We are a nation of laws only up until Lynndie England, but justice stops short of Donald Rumsfeld. We are a nation of laws for thieves and crooks, but justice can’t touch Goldman Sachs CEOs. The hypocrisy is rampant. It infests every facet of the justice system, and has left us with a broken two-tier system of justice.

The debate over torture is frequently aimed at Guantanamo. However, the problem is also domestic, although the victims are still the unprivileged. While the United States is home to just five percent of the world’s population, it contains 25% of the world’s prisoners. More than one in 100 adults are in prison. Most of those prisoners aren’t homicidal sociopaths. They’re nonviolent drug offenders. America is the only western industrialized country to still use the death penalty, but apparently injecting someone will a chemical that paralyzes their organs doesn’t constitute torture, even though the Nazis used the same method. Those that live inside our prison-industrial complex experience a form of torture every day. Prisoners face the threat of rape and are more likely to contract H.I.V., hepatitis and tuberculosis. 

This kind of domestic torture is frequently overlooked because it’s the “right people” suffering. Bad guys. Bottom-tier justice types: poor people, immigrants, people of color. And after all, it’s only a little torture. Terrorists and criminals deserve whatever happens to them. Waterboarding doesn’t even count as torture! It’s just a light spritz in the face! (Of course, even Bush’s own legal team knew it was torture and expressed their concern in footnote form.)

This cartoonish, simplified scope of reality would be laughable had it not been the ideologies held by the Bush administration for eight years. Innocent people are accused of crimes all the time. That’s why our smart ancestors put in place that whole “justice system” in the first place. Ya’ know, that thing about being able to face one’s accusers and present evidence to defend one’s self.

If justice is to come to Guantanamo (and it should,) it must also come to the United State’s domestic prisons where draconian drug laws continue case overcrowding and strain stark resources, which then breeds inhumane conditions. If justice is to come to torture victims, it must mean than the archetypes of the torture memos will stand beside the CIA agents that carried out the orders.

The American two-tier justice system must end, and a good start would be for the Obama administration to recognize that a little torture is never okay, no matter who is doing it.

G. Gordon Liddy Hates Allison, and Other Fun Facts!

Posted in Barack Obama, BTR, Citizen Radio, politics by allisonkilkenny on April 15, 2009

Listen here: http://www.breakthruradio.com/index.php?show=6633.

Citizen Radio discusses Allison’s amazing encounter with former Nixon operative (and prison inmate,) G. Gordon Liddy.

G. Gordon Liddy: Not a fan of Allison.

Next, Allison and Jamie discuss the ongoing Somali pirate standoff, and why the mainstream media is only explaining half the story.

Hope Watch! continues this week with Citizen Radio listing the various Obama promises that our new president has already broken.

Upcoming guests:

* Glenn Greenwald
* Matt Taibbi
* Janeane Garofalo
* Jeremy Scahill

Tell your friends about Citizen Radio!

Join us on Facebook.

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Citizen Radio is on BTR every Wednesday. Episodes are archived here.

Interview with author and activist, Tariq Ali

Posted in activism, atheism, Barack Obama, BTR, Citizen Radio, politics, religion by allisonkilkenny on April 8, 2009

tariq_061229102525399_wideweb__300x375Citizen Radio interviews Tariq Ali, celebrated intellectual and the man who famously debated Henry Kissinger. A world-renowned activist, who the Rolling Stones named the song “Street Fighting Man” after, Tariq Ali spends the hour talking with Citizen Radio.

Tariq Ali talks with Citizen Radio about a range of subjects from the true definition of Socialism to his discussions with Malcolm X, and how he thinks atheists and religious people can work together to make the world a better place.

Listen here. Transcript is posted below. Please feel free to repost both the interview and transcript, but please credit Citizen Radio.

Tariq Ali is the author of the new book, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power.

Citizen Radio airs every Wednesday on BTR. Episodes available 24/7 in our archives.

Jamie Kilstein: Recently, on FOX News – and actually all news stations – we’ve kind of been hearing Obama denounced as a Socialist. They’ll be like, “No one wants socialized healthcare,” or “socialized banks,” and I think, for the first time, there are some people who are like, “Yeah, we do. We kind of do. That sounds really nice.” But Obama didn’t have anyone who represents single-payer healthcare at his health conference, and the banks are getting our money, and we’re not getting anything in return. So first, I wanted you to give the actual definition of Socialism because I think it’s mischaracterized a lot here, and second, why you think decrying Socialism has been such a successful scare tactic in a country where rich-poor divide is so large.

Tariq Ali: There are many definitions of Socialism. The simplest way to define it, I guess, would be: the ownership of public utilities and things important to the economy and the land by the state in the interests of the common people. I would go beyond that and say where public utilities are owned by the state, my definition of Socialism would also include the people, who work in these utilities, playing a part in determining how they are run, and not allowing the state to nominate bureaucrats to them. That has never really happened anywhere, but given the crisis into which Socialism fell in the ‘90s, I think you need more and more democracy at every level of functioning.

Read the rest of the interview behind the cut.

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Obama, Nukes, and the World

Posted in Barack Obama, Citizen Radio, politics by allisonkilkenny on April 6, 2009

nagasaki_nuclear_bombPresident Obama has seized upon North Korea’s missile launch to talk about a new approach to nuclear disarmament. Most people agree with the swell commonplaces associated with Obama’s vague rhetoric. Sure, we shouldn’t blow up the planet. Yes, nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous.

But beyond that, the rules for nuclear armament are very hazy. Who can pursue nuclear weapons changes depending on time, place, and what the United States can gain from allowing (or forbidding) nuclear ambitions.

Certainly, reducing armaments is the pathway to abolishing nuclear weapons. However, the United States has placed itself in the position of favoring/allowing some countries’ nuclear pursuits (United States, United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, China, Russia) ahead of other countries’ sometimes-identical quests (Iran, North Korea, Syria). There was some good in Obama’s Prague speech, but there were also bad pockets. Let’s explore the minefield, shall we?

Good: reducing nukes

Few people adopt qualms for statements like this. It would be nice to live in a safer world where we’re not consumed with the fear that some general somewhere has gone bat shit crazy and sold the nuclear armament codes to Al-Qaeda.

Bad: The complete lack of universality

The United States picks and chooses which countries can, and cannot, pursue nuclear technology. Whilst holding Kim Jong-Il’s missiles just out of his reach, America gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons in an extremely volatile region of the world.

Soon after North Korea’s missile launch, President Obama gave a speech in Prague during which he declared, “Rules must be binding…Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” True, but what words? What are these rules, and why do sacred rules only apply to certain people?

Who can have missiles? Who can pursue nuclear technology, and why are 1,000-2,000 nukes on the U.S. and Russian sides any less dangerous than 5,000(PDF)?

Furthermore, “nuclear” describes a range of pursuits from missiles and bombs to energy. Iran claims it wants nuclear energy to power its state, while Israel and the United States claim their true interests lie in nuking Israel off the map. Such a move would be pretty dumb, considering Tehran would be obliterated instantly during the retaliation, but there it is – the strange double standard, combined with vague guidelines: Israel may have nukes, but Iran may not pursue nuclear power because we clairvoyantly believe Iran’s true intentions are to nuke Israel. And yes, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch document all kinds of human rights violations on the part of Israel that should lead us to believe it too is a reactionary government incapable of living humanely with its neighbors, and therefore shouldn’t be trusted with nuclear weapons, but nevermind. Step aside: confusing standards to uphold here.

North Korea’s pursuit of a missile is another illustration of such a variance in priorities. While certainly crazy, Kim Jong-Il is hardly a looming threat to the west. His sputtering rocket is the equivalent of a five-year-old’s tantrum. He got the attention he’s been craving, but he’s unlikely to blast Alaska to smithereens. Call this the flexing-for-attention strategy. Sarah Palin needn’t stakeout the coastline with Todd, and her armed children, just yet.

Bad: Fear-mongering for the sake of geopolitical conquest

I recently interviewed activist and author of several books, Tariq Ali, about the volatility at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Obama’s rationale behind expanding the covert drone operation within Pakistan is that we can’t let the Taliban get a nuclear weapon. (Pakistan is one of those “nuclear no-no” countries that we curse having the bomb). Mr. Ali very patiently explained to me how absurd this notion is:

I think this is one of the stupidest, fear mongering things. It is true Pakistan is a nuclear state. It is also true that the Pakistani military is half a million strong, that these nuclear facilities are amongst the most heavily guarded facilities in the country, just like they are in the United States, in Israel, in India, in China, in Russia now. So the notion that any armed group of extremists could even get near these facilities is a joke.

But let’s suppose they do. All the nuclear weapons require codes to be fired. These codes are now imbedded in all these weapons. There’s a handful of top military people who know what these codes are. There are also rumors, by the way, that the United States defense intelligence agency has its own personnel in there. This has been denied, but it wouldn’t totally surprise me if it were true.

So there is no problem on that front unless the Pakistani military splits. Were it to split, then all bets are off. And the only reason it would split is if the United States expanded the war into Pakistan, making it extremely difficult for lots of nationalist-minded military officers to go along with this. Because there is that current and they say, “Well, it is our country. Why is the United States using our military bases to bomb our own people?”

What I am saying to you is now news to the administration. There are intelligent people behind Obama, who know all this. And that is why its puzzling as to why they trying to destabilize the country.

Someone explain to Mr. Ali that the United State’s policies don’t have to make sense. The U.S. has nukes, so it gets to make the rules. You don’t have to make sense when you can kill the world with your arsenal of deadly, deadly weapons. Of course, if the U.S. disarms, it may have to shield itself with logic and justice instead of contradictory ideologies, gross favoritism, and the ability to vaporize the world a hundred times over.

If Part 1 of Obama’s Al-Qaeda-with-nukes fear-mongering is Al-Qaeda’s ability to steal a nuke, part 2 is Al-Qaeda’s ability to build a nuclear weapon, a claim impressively more absurd than the one made in part 1.

Building a nuclear weapon isn’t like cooking up some meth in the back of a Chevy Chevette. It takes decades to enrich uranium (ask Iran). With a halfway competent intelligence community (something I would never accuse the U.S. of having, but rather something they should aspire to have,) we’d spot something suspicious in no time. Namely, dodgy, bearded dudes crouching in caves, their faces aglow in an eerie green light from their tubes of uranium.

While Obama’s pursuit (meaning, something beyond pretty words) of nuclear disarmament would be noble, there are other problems with the U.S.’s nuclear philosophy that needs his attention. Double standards, favoritism, and fear-mongering are cancerous elements that rob the U.S. of respect and leverage in the nuclear debate.

Cross-posted from allisonkilkenny.com. Also available on Facebook and Twitter.