The NSA Also Spied On German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

The NSA Also Spied On German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. This article or image contains materials that originally came from a National Security Agency (NSA) website or publication. It is believed that this information is not classified, and is in the public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland.jpg
Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. This article or image contains materials that originally came from a National Security Agency (NSA) website or publication. It is believed that this information is not classified, and is in the public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland.jpg

New leaks reveal that the NSA not only spied on the current German Chancellor Angela Merkel but also on her predecessor Gerhard Schröder—mainly because of his opposition to the Bush administration’s plans to invade Iraq.

The premise of that war, as is now common knowledge, was deceptive propaganda using fabricated intelligence to prove that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had links to Al-Qaeda.

The infamous climax of this neoconservative beating of war drums was certainly Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation in front of the UN claiming that Saddam Hussein had at that moment weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Qaeda.

Gerhard Schröder used the German population’s opposition to George W. Bush’s war plans in his reelection campaign, some would argue, by exploiting dormant anti-American resentment. And at that point, Bush ordered the NSA to spy on Schröder.

There might be some truth to the notion that catering to anti-American resentment among a segment of Germans was part of Schröder’s campaigning success, especially if one looks at the loud style in which Schröder publicly opposed the Bushies’ war plans. But that is beside the point. In my opinion, Schröder was still right on the facts.

I would like to emphasize that an opposition to a war that cost, as we now know, over a decade later, up to 133,000 civilian lives alone, does not equal hostikity against America as an idea per se. I certainly do not see it that way.

A lust for war should never be the benchmark of alliances among democratic states.

Unfortunately, it is almost never those who drag their countries into wars who face any accountability. In the end, it is not them, who pay with their lives, but the working classes who disproportionately enter the armed forces, and civilians in foreign countries, who likely never had a say in choosing their rulers.

The assumption that the Bush administration and the NSA acted as forces for democracy here seems hard to believe.

auf deutsch:

Bush und Schröder: Eine Männerfeindschaft.” (Handelsblatt, 05.02.2014)

NSA hörte Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder ab.” (Stefan Kornelius und Hand Leyendecker, Süddeutsche.de, 04.02.2014)

Watch “UNMANNED,” A New Documentary About America’s Drone Wars Online

A New Documentary About America’s Drone Wars

CREECH AFB, Nev. -- A MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission here. The 42nd Attack Squadron currently operates the MQ-9. 7 August 2008. http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/090609-F-0000M-777.JPG | U.S. Air Force photo by Paul Ridgeway. This image or file is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MQ-9_Reaper_-_090609-F-0000M-777.JPG
CREECH AFB, Nev. — A MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission here. The 42nd Attack Squadron currently operates the MQ-9. 7 August 2008. http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/090609-F-0000M-777.JPG | U.S. Air Force photo by Paul Ridgeway. This image or file is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MQ-9_Reaper_-_090609-F-0000M-777.JPG

The new documentary UNMANNED: America’s Drone Wars by Robert Greenwald examines the impact of the United States’ drone wars on countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as at home.

The film focuses on the plight of civilians targeted by so-called signature strikes and the continuing efforts by U.S. government officials (including President Barack Obama) and intelligence agencies to play down or deny the existence of civilian ‘collateral damage’ by retrospectively declaring civilian victims as ‘militants’ or ‘terrorists’ in media appearances to justify their killing.

Featuring interviews with former drone operators, relatives of drone victims, and legal experts, UNMANNED gives a rounded insight into the human cost of the drone wars that are being waged in the name of fighting terrorism.

For a limited time, the film’s production company Brave New Films streams UNMANNED on YouTube. I highly recommend watching it.

In addition, a report on Democracy Now! covers the film and its subject matter.

The official film website is here: http://unmanned.warcosts.com/

 

Zero Dark Thirty: CIA Propaganda Piece

Zero Dark Thirty: CIA Propaganda Piece

Kathryn Bigelow’s 2012 movie Zero Dark Thirty, which depicts the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, is in some ways a CIA propaganda piece, according to a report from Gawker.

Based on declassified memos from the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs, which is the agency’s propaganda operation, the major revelation is that the CIA directly pressured director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal to take out scenes that would portray the CIA in a bad light.

And so Bigelow and Boal did.

What are the contents/scenes taken out that the CIA objected to?

  • Participation of CIA operatives in the torture (I am not buying the euphemism ‘enhanced interrogation’) of detainees in the opening scene
  • Intimidation of detainees with dogs
  • A drunk CIA officer firing an AK-47 rifle into the air at a drunken rooftop party in Islamabad
  • The CIA analyzing videotaped interrogations of tortured detainees

Apart from the CIA’s influence revealed through the memo, the movie falsely suggests in its opening scene that it was torture that ultimately led to the revelation of Bin Laden’s location. This powerful image created by a product of popular culture retroactively works to legitimize the practice of torture in the public mind.

Read and see more:

CIA requested Zero Dark Thirty rewrites, memo reveals.” (Ben Child, Guardian, 2013/05/07)

Newly Declassified Memo Shows CIA Shaped “Zero Dark Thirty”‘s Narrative.” (Adrian Chen, Gawker, 2013/05/06)

[Video] “Zero Dark Irresponsible – Killing Bin Laden With Blinders On.” (TheLipTV, 2013/11/26) – FIlm critic Peter Rainer criticizes Zero Dark Thirty for not contextualizing the torture scenes of the movie in the ‘Global War on Terrorism.’ In particular, he notes the absence of any mention of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as responsible for America’s torture policies.

Torture and the hunt for Bin Laden

Torture May Have Slowed Hunt For Bin Laden, Not Hastened It.” (Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post, 2011/05/06) – A study by the National Defense Intelligence College found that “rapport-based” interrogation works best, even with hard-boiled detainees.

A Dying Iraq War Veteran’s Condemning Letter To Bush and Cheney

Tomas Young, a dying Iraq War veteran, writes a condemning letter to Bush and Cheney

Recently, President Obama commemorated the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War in a White House press release. In that statement, he thanked American military for its sacrifices.

Now a letter by a severely injured military veteran illustrates what those sacrifices look like. Tomas Young, who joined the US military shortly after 9/11 has written a very condemning letter towards President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, in which he accuses both of war crimes and evasion of justice.

Young on how many military veterans view the Bush administration in hindsight:

You may evade justice but in our [military veteran’s] eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Among the issues Young talks about in his letter are the illegality of the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war, the catastrophic impact of the Iraq War on the Middle East, the war profiteering of oil companies, the chickenhawkishness of Bush and Cheney, their religious hypochrisy and their general betrayal of military veterans, especially when it comes to appropriate care through the Veteran’s administration.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned.

As a dying man,Young speaks truth to power and unmasks Bush and Cheney as moral failures:

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character.

Read Tomas Young’s letter in full on the website linked below.

Read more:

The Last Letter.” (Tomas Young, Truthdig, 2013/03/18) – The letter in full, plus links to an interview with Tomas young by Chris Hedges.

President Obama’s Statement On The Tenth Anniversary Of The Iraq War

President Obama’s Statement On The Tenth Anniversary Of The Iraq War

On March 19, 2013, the White House published a press release commemorating the tenth anniversary of the US-lead invasion of Iraq. You can read it in full here.

Obama thanks the US military and their families for their sacrifices, and argues for a “strong Post 9/11 GI Bill” to take care of military veterans, especially those suffering from brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But a certain sacrifice is carefully left out of the White House statement: that of Iraqi civilians. There is no mention of the civilian deaths caused by the war, no mention of civilian deaths by drone strikes, especially so-called signature strikes.

Certainly, Obama as the Commander in Chief and has responsibilities towards US military members, but their experiences alone constitute but a part of the whole story of the Iraq War in the past decade.

Guardian and BBC Arabic Reveal Pentagon Involvement In Iraqi Torture Centers

An Investigation By The Guardian and BBC Arabic Reveals Pentagon Involvement In Iraqi Torture Centers.

The abyss of US military involvement in torture in Iraq widens. According to a report by the Guardian and BBC Arabic, top US military brass was well-informed about Iraqi torture centers.

The expert for the dirty work: An ex-special forces organizer of deaths squads in El Salvador in the 1980s

The Pentagon brought Colonel James Steele to Iraq. “Who is this man?” you ask. Steele is a special forces veteran who spent his time in the US military, among other things, setting up right-wing death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s.

In Iraq, according to the report, Steele organized setting up Iraqi torture centers for detainees of the insurgency.

Petraeus knew about torture

Another top military advisor, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked together with Steele in the detention centers and—this is where it gets interesting—reported directly to General Petraeus.

It follows that Petraeus knew exactly what kind of abuse was going on, and let it happen.

WikiLeaks as threat to the official war narrative

The Guardian’s report is in part based on material that was leaked to WikiLeaks. It is not hard to see why the Justice Department is currently attempting to make an example of Bradley Manning and get their hands on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

As the dirtiest secrets of the Iraq war are revealed, the liberation narrative begins to unravel. Top military officials stand embarrassed, for they have been caught red-handed as ruthless condoners of torture. But as the maintenance of the facade of democratic values is elementary in order to win the home front, whistleblowers are quickly declared enemies of the state.

‘We’ are becoming ‘them’: Torture poisons our democracies

Reading the details on the practices in the Iraqi torture centers is frankly disturbing. It is all the more disgusting to learn that ‘we,’ i.e. the ‘West,’ and US military officials at the highest levels in particular, were completely fine with this.

It does not take much to realize the unbearable hypocrisy of it all. Not only is torture morally wrong, it is also ineffective, because victims will say anything to make their suffering stop.

Here in Europe, we have the best historic example of this: witch hunts in early modern times. Tortured victims would accuse neighbors or others they did not like of being witches just to save themselves. But that is besides the point.

If in this century’s ‘war on terrorism’ realpolitik prevails über alles, then the line between ‘them,’ the maligned autocratic rogue states, and ‘us,’ the liberal democratic West, becomes thinner and blurry to the point of being barely distinguishable.

And if we are not watchful, there might come a day when the next Mubarak or al-Assad has a more familiar-sounding name and speaks our own language. But then it will be too late.

Neocons, I beg to differ

Here is where I disagree with the neoconservative world view behind the Iraq war: I do not think that the end always justifies the means. And I doubt that the end of fighting terrorism can be achieved by becoming torturers, or having detainees tortured by proxy.

As for building a democracy, I am skeptical about how torture prisons constitute a solid foundation in this regard. But then again, the attachment of the neoconservative architects of the Iraq war to democratic values is questionable.

Torture enablers should be in prison

I do not know at which point the George W. Bushes, the Dick Cheneys, the John Yoos, the Donald Rumsfelds, or the David Petraeuses of the world became attached to this kind of amoral thinking, but when you read what is now publicly accessible, these men were not at all troubled by deploying torture and constructing a legal framework to make it seem legit. To the contrary. But torture is still wrong.

And to the big disgrace of the Obama administration and the Holder Justice Department, which I put high hopes in, none of these crimes had any consequences for the perpetrators.

In an ideal world, all of those who enabled the torture regime, including European government officials, would spend the rest of their days in prison for crimes against humanity. Call me naive, but not to speak up against this evil would make me an accomplice.

Read more:

Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres.” (, , and , Guardian, 2013/03/06)