When it comes to gulags, the USA has taken over from Bolshevik Russia

100,000 U.S. Prisoners Are Trapped in Isolation Units

Alternet – by Bill Berkowitz

Portrait of a young man in jail
Photo Credit: CURAphotography / Shutterstock

A travesty of our criminal justice system.

There are nearly 100,000 people being held in solitary confinement today in America’s prisons. They are locked up in cramped, often windowless cells for nearly 24 hours a day. They eat alone. They exercise alone in small fenced-in areas known as cages or dog runs. They are almost completely segregated from the mainstream population and there are no programs available to them. Most aren’t allowed to make phone calls to loved ones. And they are often subject to extreme and excessive punishment, euphemistically called “cell extractions.” Robert Hillary King, an Angola 3 member who spent 29 years in solitary confinement, has called this isolation a matter of “moral depravity.”  

Forensic psychiatrist Terry Allen Kupers knows this moral depravity all too well. He has spent 40 years evaluating prisons and jails and testifying in class action suits revolving around prisoners’ rights issues such as overcrowding, sexual abuse and the lack of decent mental health treatment.

In his new book, “Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It,” Kupers describes how long-term solitary confinement destroys the minds of those imprisoned. He also explains how prisons became warehouses for the mentally ill, which set the stage for a 30-year boom in supermax prison construction and the placement of a large number of prisoners in solitary confinement.

Here, in his first extensive interview since the September release of “Solitary,” Kupers discusses private prison practices, the role of race in solitary confinement and why he does this painful work.

Describe what you look for when you investigate a prison.

I tour the facilities, noting things like crowding, gymnasiums converted into impromptu dorms, prisoners lying in their bunks in the middle of the day because there is nothing productive to do, excessive use of force [by guards] and filthy isolation cells. I talk to prisoners about the conditions and their medical and psychiatric treatment. I review cartons of documents, including prison policies, medical charts and reports of audits and accreditation inspections. I would like to talk to staff in depth about what they do, but usually the attorney general will not permit that. I have to learn the staff’s perspective by reading depositions they give in the case.

What role do you play in court cases?

I am a psychiatric expert witness, or sometimes I serve as monitor after the case is settled and I assess the state’s performance in carrying out the court’s orders. I testify about inhumane and unconstitutional conditions of confinement, including solitary confinement, inadequate or harmful mental health services and sexual abuse. After I have done my investigation, the county or state’s attorneys depose me under oath. Some large class actions are settled at that point. Some go to trial, and then I testify in court as a psychiatric expert. After I describe unconstitutional and abusive conditions and practices, I am asked what remedies I would recommend, and that’s when I have an opportunity to share with the judge or jury the proven effective alternatives to prison crowding and solitary confinement.

How do private prisons play into all this?

Private prisons are the sites of some of the worst human rights abuses. After all, the way corporations make a profit is to cut corners on staffing costs and drastically cut down on rehabilitative programs. Private prisons, which tend to be more crowded than those run by the government, rely a lot on solitary confinement to manage prisoners. They pay staff lower wages and provide them less training than in government facilities. President Obama favored moving away from private prisons and solitary confinement in the federal system, but the Trump administration favors the private prison corporations, especially in the realm of immigration detention. The stock of the private prison corporations rose precipitously in value immediately after Trump won the election.

What motivated you to get involved in prison work?

Back in the day, I was the physician for the Black Panther Party’s Bunchy Carter Free Clinic in South Central L.A. In 1971, COINTELPRO and the LAPD Red Squad attacked the Panther office—the building where the clinic was located—and shot the 13 Panthers sleeping there. I went to the L.A. County Jail Hospital Ward and demanded to see my patients. The conditions and treatment in the jail were horrid, and I reported that to the press.

How did you end up testifying in class action cases?

A couple of years later, the ACLU sued the L.A. County sheriff over unconstitutional conditions and inadequate treatment at Men’s Central Jail and asked me to be their expert witness. I went back in and this time reported the appalling conditions to the federal judge. The psychiatric community was just beginning to discover that a large number of individuals suffering from serious mental illness were behind bars. Once I learned of the horrors that regularly occur [in jails and prisons] I felt compelled to investigate, testify and generally holler about the massive abuses.

I understand there are 100,000 prisoners in solitary confinement today. How did that happen?

In the 1980s, prisons were overcrowded [due to] longer sentences and the War on Drugs, and they were out of control with a lot of violence. The choice was to either downsize the prison population through sentencing reform while upgrading rehabilitation for prisoners, or to lock up “the worst of the worst” in solitary. The powers that be decided on [the isolation option]. This was a historic wrong turn, and we entered the age of supermax. There was no improvement in the violence or gang problems, but there was massive human damage.

What role does race play in solitary confinement?

It’s all about race, of course. It starts with who goes to prison: While approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population is African American, over 40 percent of prisoners are Black. Latinos are equivalently overrepresented in prison. In terms of consignment to SHU (Security Housing Units), there is an unfortunate national trend to send White prisoners to mental-health treatment for the same rule-breaking behaviors that get Blacks placed in SHU.

Can you given me an example?

In New York, according to a 2014 study by the New York Advisory Committee to The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, African Americans make up almost 18 percent of the state population but nearly 50 percent of the state’s prisoners and 59 percent of those kept in extreme isolation. For prisoners under age 21, Black youths constitute 66 percent of those in solitary confinement.

In other words, the racial disparities and discrimination that permeate our society are multiplied and exaggerated behind bars. The racial discrimination of officers is well known, and that includes corrections officers.

Why are there so many people with serious mental illness in our jails and prisons, and why do so many of them wind up in solitary confinement?

With deinstitutionalization, the War on Drugs and the de-funding of social welfare safety net programs, a lot of people with mental illness ran afoul of the law. In prison, they are victimized or they find it difficult to follow all the rules and they get singled out for punishment with solitary confinement. Just about everyone in solitary develops dreadful symptoms, including massive anxiety, mounting anger, despair, paranoia, repetitive behaviors such as pacing, and, too often, suicide. When individuals suffering from mental illness are consigned to SHU, it exacerbates their mental health problems. They develop worse disabilities and prognoses.

What effect is the Trump/Sessions regime having on prison reform, and, by extension, solitary confinement?

Before Trump, there was a bipartisan effort to put radical sentence reform on the legislative agenda. Obama, [Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy] and many influential people were calling for a move away from solitary confinement, and we were on a path to reform. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions insists on the harshest sentences and Trump likes waterboarding. I worry that the progress of recent years will be reversed. The scenario that scares me the most is the detention of millions of immigrants in [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention centers, where the feds ask the states and counties to incarcerate the overflow and prison crowding returns with a vengeance. Correctional authorities [will] once again make the wrong decision and put a lot of prisoners in solitary.

I imagine that the correctional authorities insist they need solitary confinement to keep prisons safe. How do you respond to that?

Research shows no improvement in the violence rate in prisons, the gang problem continues unabated, and a huge number of prisoners are very damaged from their stints in solitary. Actually, prisoners who spend time in solitary are more difficult to manage after they are returned to general population, and that’s why the violence rate is not improved.

Tell me about some of the court cases you’ve been involved with.

I have testified in dozens of court cases. Among the most significant is Coleman v. Wilson, which was about mental healthcare throughout the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This case resulted in an order from the Supreme Court to downsize the state’s prisons. Then there was Presley v. Epps, which was about conditions and inadequate treatment for prisoners with serious mental illness at the supermax unit within the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. And Ashker v. Brown was a case that came out of hunger strikes at Pelican Bay State Prison in California. It addressed conditions and due process in the SHU.

Do you think class action lawsuits an effective way to reform the criminal justice system? What about legislation and social activism? What is needed at this point?

Lawsuits alone will not change things, but they permit us to enter the prisons and assess the damage. Only with social activism, starting with calls for radical sentence reform and massive downsizing of the prisons, will we see progress. Some legislatures are responding to advocates, including prisoners’ families, and they’re passing sentencing- and prison-reform legislation.

https://www.alternet.org/activism/100000-us-prisoners-are-trapped-isolation-units

Advertisements

NYT: Al-Assad’s Future Looks as Secure as Ever

27-09-2017 | 13:43

Analyzing the latest happening on the Syrian ground, Ben Hubbard wrote for the New York Times:

 

Assad


Although Syria’s bloody six-year war is far from over, one result is already becoming clear: President Bashar al-Assad looks as though he is here to stay.

On the battlefield, no one remains who is willing and able to topple him. Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group], with its own agenda to rule Syria as a caliphate, is being routed from its strongholds.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government is talking about rebuilding a shattered country, hosting an international trade fair last month and signing a deal with Iran to rebuild its power grid.

Since the government reclaimed control of the mountain town of Madaya after a prolonged siege, life there has improved for those who remained. The snipers left, electricity returned, and food appeared in markets. Cafes reopened, and people started going out.

Al-Assad’s endurance has serious ramifications for the country and for the Middle East, affecting the prospects of Syria’s future stability, of refugees to return home and of the Syrian government to tap international funds to rebuild its destroyed cities.

Now, al-Assad’s government controls Syria’s largest cities and most of its remaining people, who generally live in better conditions than those elsewhere in the country.

“The Syrian regime is now the furthest from being toppled,” said Bassam Alahmad, executive director of Syrians for Truth and Justice, a human-rights monitoring group based in Turkey. “Fewer powers are interested in making that happen than was the case near the beginning of the Syrian war.”

Officials in the United States and Europe still hope that al-Assad will leave office in an eventual political agreement.

Last month, the government held an international trade fair in Damascus for the first time since 2011, welcoming companies from Iran, Iraq, Russia, Venezuela and elsewhere. Among the new deals signed were ones for the importation of 200 buses from Belarus and contracts to export 50,000 tons of produce.

Source: The New York Times, Edited by website team

Related Videos

Related Articles

American Legion Calls for Full Investigation Into Israel’s Attack Upon the USS Liberty

[ Ed. note – The American Legion, at its annual convention, has adopted an historic resolution on the June 8, 1967 attack by Israel against the USS Liberty–an attack that resulted in the deaths of 34 US sailors and injuries to 173 more.  Below is the resolution itself, posted on the USS Liberty Veterans Association blog, followed by an article by Alison Weir. The American Legion held its convention August 22-24 in Reno, Nevada. The resolution was adopted on the final day of the convention. ]

American Legion Passes Historic USS Liberty Resolution

By Joe Meadors | USS Liberty Veterans Association

RESOLUTION
National Headquarters, The American Legion
Ninety-Ninth Annual National Convention, Reno, Nevada August 22, 23, 24, 2017

WHEREAS, on June 8, 1967, while operating in support of the National Security Agency (NSA) in international waters, properly marked as to her identity and nationality, and in calm, clear weather in the eastern Mediterranean, the USS Liberty (AGTR-5) was the target of an unprovoked attack by Israeli military forces that killed 34 members of the Liberty’s crew and wounded 173; and,

WHEREAS, in recognition of their heroic efforts during and after the Israeli onslaught, Liberty crew members were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, 2 Navy Crosses, 12 Silver Stars, 20 Bronze Stars, more than 200 Purple Hearts, and the ship’s captain, Navy Commander William. L. McGonagle, was awarded the Medal of Honor; and,

WHEREAS, the June 28, 1967 public summary of proceedings of the Navy Court of Inquiry into the attack stated: “It was not the responsibility of the Court to rule on the culpability of the attackers and no evidence was heard from the attacking nation”; and,

WHEREAS, according to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) information reports from June and October, 1967, sources in Tel Aviv reported: “Israel’s forces knew exactly what flag the [L]IBERTY was flying” and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan “personally ordered the attack” on the Liberty over the objections of senior uniformed military personnel, one of whom characterized the attack as “pure murder”; and,

WHEREAS, Richard Helms (Director of Central Intelligence, 1966-1973), stated in a 1984 CIA interview: “everything possible was done to keep from the American public really the enormity of this attack on an American naval vessel” and “since this is for the Agency’s record, I don’t think there can be any doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing … any statement to the effect that they didn’t know that it was an American ship … is nonsense”; and,

WHEREAS, Lieutenant General Marshall S. Carter, USA (ret.) (Director of the NSA, 1965-1969), recalled in a 1988 NSA interview that he stated at a Congressional hearing in 1967 that the attack on the Liberty “couldn’t be anything else but deliberate. There’s just no way you could have a series of circumstances that would justify it being an accident” and Carter indicated this remained his belief in 1988; and,

WHEREAS, in a 2003 affidavit published in the Congressional Record, Captain Ward Boston, Jr., JAGC, USN (ret.), legal counsel for the 1967 Navy Court of Inquiry stated: “I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd [president of the Court of Inquiry] that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary”; and,

WHEREAS, according to the findings, published in the Congressional Record, of the 2003 Independent Commission of Inquiry, chaired by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN (ret.): “there is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew” and “the White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack”; and,

WHEREAS, in 2013, the Veterans of Foreign Wars adopted Resolution 423 calling “upon Congress to immediately investigate the attack on the USS Liberty by the armed forces of Israel on June 8, 1967, in order to determine the truth behind the attack, and to bring closure to the families and crew”; and,

WHEREAS, in August 1967, after the conclusion of the Navy Court of Inquiry, the American Legion adopted Resolution 508 (rescinded in 1984 without being first reviewed) declaring the published report of the Navy Court of Inquiry “fails to provide the American public with a satisfactory answer as to the reason for the attack” and stating that “The American Legion denounces and condemns Israel’s irresponsible attack” and demanding “a complete and thorough investigation of the incident”; and,

WHEREAS, according to Gurney Williams III, writing in The American Legion Magazine (“Death Strikes the Liberty“, July 1997), Congress has never investigated the Israeli attack on the Liberty; now therefore be it,

RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Reno, Nevada, August 22, 23, 24, 2017, that The American Legion calls upon the 115th United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the USS Liberty and its aftermath and to commence its investigation before the end of 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the attack.

The final text of the resolution can be found here on the American Legion’s digital archive page.

***

USS Liberty survivor Larry Bowen

***

American Legion calls for investigation

American Legion Calls for Full Investigation Into Israel’s Attack on the USS Liberty

By Alison Weir | Mint Press

In a historic move, the American Legion, at its national convention in Reno on Thursday, August 24, 2017, approved Resolution 40 (text provided below) calling for the first full U.S. government investigation of Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty.

Gunnery Sergeant Bryce F. Lockwood (USMC, ret.) was on hand during the entire convention working for passage of the resolution, which originated earlier this year from Post 40 in Seattle in the American Legion Department of Washington (state).

Lockwood was awarded the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with the unprovoked and unexpected armed attack on U.S.S. LIBERTY (AGTR-5), in the Eastern Mediterranean, on 8 June 1967.”

Lockwood said there were a lot of “hand shakes, hugs, and some tears” after the vote.

The American Legion’s resolution brings the nation’s largest veterans organization back on the side of the USS Liberty survivors, family, and supporter in calling upon the “115th United States Congress to publicly, impartially, and thoroughly investigate the attack on the USS Liberty and its aftermath and to commence its investigation before the end of 2017, the 50th anniversary year of the attack.”

The resolution also aligns the Legion with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which, in 2013, adopted Resolution 423 at their national convention calling for the attack to be investigated.

The Liberty was a U.S. Navy electronics ship operating in international waters in the eastern Mediterranean when it was attacked by Israeli forces, killing 34 and injuring at least 174.

The ship’s commander received the Congressional Medal of Honor and the crew is one of the most decorated for a single engagement in U.S. Navy history.

The claim is sometimes incorrectly made that the attack has already been investigated. However, a one-week-long Naval inquiry was only tasked with investigating crew performance during the attack, and Congress has never investigated it, as reported in the July 1997 issue of The American Legion Magazine and elsewhere.

While Legion members have long been supportive of the Liberty crew, Legion leaders have often managed to torpedo resolution. The resolution was passed over a recommendation by a Legion steering committee member that it be rejected.

Israel’s Chorus Sings Again

Less than total loyalty to Israel is un-American

By Philip Giraldi

August 15, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – Congress is on a one-month summer recess. You would think that given the recent turmoil over the bill to eliminate Obamacare and the upcoming debate over tax policy the nation’s legislators would be back in their home districts talking to the voters. Some are, but many are not. “More than fifty” Congressmen are off on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel to demonstrate that “there is no stronger bond with any ally we have.” Yes indeed, a congress which cannot pass legislation to benefit the American people finds that it has only one voice when it comes to our troublesome little client state that also doubles as the leading recipient of U.S. tax dollars in the world.

How do they do it? They do it by relentless courting of the congress critters and media talking heads, all of whom know how to repay a favor. Some readers might be asking how Congress (spouses included) can accept these free trips from a foreign government? The current trip is estimated to be costing $10,000 per person. Well, the answer is that they can’t do it directly, which would be illegal, so the clever rascals at the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) have created an “charitable” foundation that pays the bills. It’s called the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF). AIEF is a tax exempt 501(c)3 foundation that had income of more than $80 million in 2015. As it is tax exempt that means that its activities are, in effect, being subsidized by the U.S. Treasury so the congressmen are being “charitably educated” while they are also being wined and dined and propagandized in part on the taxpayers’ dime. A couple of the congress critters hardly hit the ground before they were singing the praises of their hosts, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy crooning “We have shared values! Shared security interests! No stronger bond!” And plenty of feel-good all around as Israel is “The Only Democracy in the Middle East!”

Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who has had his head up the Israeli derriere for decades, was also quick on the uptake, enthusing how support for Israel is completely bipartisan, “We are not here as Democrats and Republicans, we are here as Americans who support Israel’s security, its sovereignty and the safety of its people.” And as if it is not enough to go around bragging how one is subordinating U.S. sovereignty to that of Israel, the gnomes are hard at work back at home preparing to pass into law the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which will criminalize for many Americans their First Amendment right to criticize Israel, and a completely bipartisan bit of new legislation being pushed by the Israeli government that will take away aid currently given to the Palestinians as long as the Palestinian Authority continues to provide subsidies to help support the families of those individuals being held prisoner by the Israelis. As most aid actually goes towards training Palestinian security forces that are intended to prevent terror attacks against Israelis, the bill is as wrong-headed as can be, but it just goes to show how far Congress will go to punish Arabs on behalf of Israel.

And finally there has been a series of Israel-centric attacks on leading members of the Trump Administration. A month ago, the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism for 2016. The report, as always, describes threats of violence in the Middle East from an Israeli perspective, but it was honest enough to also include two sentences that state that

“Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians…and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive. The PA has [also] taken significant steps…to not create or disseminate content that incites violence.”

B’nai B’rith immediately blasted the report for “parroting the false Palestinian narrative” and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) demanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson resign because the report was “bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel hating, error ridden.” ZOA went on to praise the co-chairman of the Republican Israel Caucus, Congressman Peter Roskam for demanding that the State Department correct the “numerous mischaracterizations” in the report.

Tillerson has long been a target of the American-Jewish media because of the perception that oil company executives are traditionally not friendly to Israel. There have also been claims that he is “less hard” on Iran than the Israel Lobby would like. But what Tillerson is really experiencing is the hard truth regarding Israel: that its Lobby and friends in congress are both unrelenting and unforgiving. Even when they get 90% of the pie they are furious over someone else getting 10%.

Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has also been under siege for the past several weeks and his “loyalty” to Israel is now under the microscope. McMaster made the mistake of firing three National Security Council officials that were brought in by his predecessor Michael Flynn. The three – Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Rich Higgins, and Derek Harvey – are all regarded by the Israel Lobby as passionately pro-Israel and virulently anti-Iran. It was therefore inevitable that McMaster would take some heat, but the “speed and intensity” of the attacks has surprised even The Atlantic, which failed to note in its thorough examination of the development that while much of the anger flows from extreme right-wing sources there is also considerable pressure coming directly from friends of Israel.

It is interesting to note just how and by whom the argument against McMaster is being framed. Caroline Glick, an American-born Israeli journalist who might reasonably be described as extreme right wing, has led the charge in a posting that described McMaster as “deeply hostile to Israel.” She cites anonymous sources to claim that he refers to Israel as an occupying power and also has the audacity to claim that there once existed a place called Palestine. Oh, and he apparently also supports the nuclear agreement with Iran, as does Tillerson.

McMaster’s other crimes consist of allegedly altering the agenda of Donald Trump’s recent trip to Israel in ways that are somewhat arcane but which no doubt contributed to Glick’s sense of grievance. What is most interesting, however, is the unstated premise supporting Glick’s point of view, which is that the United States national security team should be subject to approval by Israel. Her view is not dissimilar to what lies behind the attacks on Tillerson and the real irony is that neither Tillerson nor McMaster has actually demonstrated any genuine animosity towards Israel, so the whole process is part of a perverse mindset that inevitably sees nearly everything as a threat.

We Americans are way beyond the point where we might simply demand that Israel and its partisans butt out of our politics. Israel-firsters are literally deeply embedded everywhere in the media, in politics at all levels, in academia, and in the professions. They are well funded and highly disciplined to respond to any threats to their hegemony. Their policy is to never give an inch on anything relating to Israel and their relentless grinding is characteristic of how they behave. The Israel Lobby controls Congress and can literally get any bill it wants through the legislature. And it also has its hooks in the White House, though the unpredictable Trump obviously makes many American Zionists nervous because it is rightly believed that once the president takes a position on anything he cannot be trusted either to understand what he has committed to or to stick with it subsequently.

So what is to be done? To match the passion of the Israel Lobby we Americans have to become passionate ourselves. Do what they do but in reverse. Write letters to congressmen and newspapers opposing the junkets to Israel. When a congress critter has a town hall, show up and complain about our involvement in the Middle East. Keep mentioning the pocket book issues, i.e. how Israel costs the taxpayer $9 million a day. Explain how its behavior puts our diplomats and soldiers overseas in danger. The reality is that Israel is built on a lot of lies promoted by people who frequently cite the holocaust every time they turn around but who have no actual regard for humanity outside their own tribe. The hypocrisy must stop if the United States is to survive as a nation. Pandering to Israel and engaging in constant wars to directly or indirectly defend it, be they against Iran or in Syria, will wear our country down and erode our freedoms. We are already on a slippery slope and it is past time to put our own interests first.

This article was first published by Unz Review 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Support Information Clearing House

Your support has kept ICH free on the Web since 2002.

======

Click for SpanishGermanDutchDanishFrench, translation- Note- Translation may take a moment to load.

Polls: US Is ‘the Greatest Threat to Peace in the World Today’

Polls: US Is ‘the Greatest Threat to Peace in the World Today’

Eric ZUESSE | 07.08.2017 |

US Is “The Greatest Threat To Peace In The World Today,” New Poll

It has happened again: yet another international poll finds that the US is viewed by peoples around the world to be the biggest threat to world peace.

But, to start, let’s summarize the first-ever poll that had been done on this, back in 2013, which was the only prior poll on this entire issue, and it was the best-performed such poll: «An end-of-the-year WIN/Gallup International survey found that people in 65 countries believe the United States is the greatest threat to world peace», as the N.Y. Post reported on 5 January 2014.

On 30 December 2013, the BBC had reported of that poll: «This year, first [meaning here, ‘for’] the first time, Win/Gallup agreed to include three questions submitted by listeners to [BBC’s] Radio 4’s Today programme». And, one of those three listener-asked questions was phrased there by the BBC, as having been «Which country is the biggest threat to peace?» The way that WIN/Gallup International itself had actually asked this open-ended question, to 67,806 respondents from 65 countries, was: «Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?» #1, 24% of respondents, worldwide, volunteered that the US was «the greatest threat». #2 (the second-most-frequently volunteered ‘greatest threat’) was Pakistan, volunteered by 8%. #3 was China, with 6%. #s 4-7 were a four-way tie, at 5% each, for: Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, and North Korea. #s 8-10 were a three-way tie, at 4% each, for: India, Iraq, and Japan. #11 was Syria, with 3%. #12 was Russia, with 2%. #s 13-20 were a seven-way tie, at 1% each, for: Australia, Germany, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Korea, and UK.

The way that W/G itself had phrased this matter, in their highly uninformative press release for their year-end survey (which included but barely mentioned this finding, in it — as though this particular finding in their annual year-end poll, hardly even deserved to be mentioned), was: «The US was the overwhelming choice (24% of respondents) for the country that represents the greatest threat to peace in the world today. This was followed by Pakistan (8%), China (6%), North Korea, Israel and Iran (5%). Respondents in Russia (54%), China (49%) and Bosnia (49%) were the most fearful of the US as a threat». That’s all there was of it — W/G never devoted a press-release to the stunning subject of this particular finding, and they even buried this finding when mentioning it in their year-end press-release.

I had hoped that they would repeat this excellent global survey question every year (so that a trendline could be shown, in the global answers over time), but the question was unfortunately never repeated.

However, now, on August 1st of 2017, Pew Research Center has issued results of their polling of 30 nations in which they had surveyed, first in 2013, and then again in 2017, posing a less-clear but similar question (vague perhaps because they were fearing a similar type of finding — embarrassing to their own country, the US), in which respondents had been asked «Do you think that the United States’ power and influence is a major threat, a minor threat, or not a threat to (survey country)?» and which also asked this same question but regarding «China,» and then again but regarding «Russia,» as a possible threat instead of «United States». (This wasn’t an open-ended question; only those three nations were named as possible responses.)

On page 3 of their 32-page pdf is shown that the «major threat» category was selected by 35% of respondents worldwide for «US power and influence», 31% worldwide selected that for «Russia’s power and influence,» and also 31% worldwide said it for «China’s power and influence». However, on pages 23 and 24 of the pdf is shown the 30 countries that had been surveyed in this poll, in both 2013 and 2017, and most of these 30 nations were US allies; only Venezuela clearly was not. None of the 30 countries was an ally of either Russia or China (the other two countries offered as possibly being «a major threat»). And, yet, nonetheless, more respondents among the 30 sampled countries saw the US as «a major threat», than saw either Russia or China that way.

Furthermore, the trend, in those 30 countries, throughout that four-year period, was generally in the direction of an increase in fear of the US — increase in fear of the country that had been overwhelmingly cited in 2013 by people in 65 countries in WIN/Gallup’s poll, as constituting, in 2013, «the greatest threat to peace in the world today».

Consequently: though WIN/Gallup never repeated its question, the evidence in this newly released poll, from Pew, clearly suggests that the percentage of people in the 65 nations that WIN/Gallup had polled in 2013 who saw the US as being «the greatest threat to peace in the world today» would be even higher today than it was in 2013, when 24% of respondents worldwide volunteered the US as being the world’s most frightening country.

Perhaps people around the world are noticing that, at least since 2001, the US is wrecking one country after another: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Which is next? Maybe Iran? Maybe Russia? Maybe Venezuela? Who knows?

And this country has just increased its ‘defense’ spending, which already is three times China’s, and nine times higher than Russia’s. Do the owners of America’s military-industrial complex own the US government, and own the US ‘news’media, to permit this rabid military to control the government’s budget, in a ‘democracy’?

Scheer: ‘Fake News’ Label Is Used to ‘Whitewash American History’ (Video)

Scheer: ‘Fake News’ Label Is Used to ‘Whitewash American History’ (Video)

Editor’s note: The following video is a clip from a 19-part series filmed at a Truthdig and KPFK co-sponsored event in Los Angeles recently. The discussion features Oliver Stone, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director, and Robert Scheer, Truthdig’s editor in chief. The two talk about “The Putin Interviews,” a new Showtime series by Stone, as well as the published transcript, for which Scheer wrote the foreword. We are publishing one video per day. This is the fourth installment.

“This question of ‘fake news’ has real power now,” says Robert Scheer, “and you can use it against anyone who comes up with a narrative that’s different from yours.”

Watch the next clip in the series, in which Oliver Stone discusses changing his political views, on Saturday.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

 

America’s Record of Murder and Mayhem Since 1945: Some of the Worst Hits

Source

By Paul Street,

The United States has killed, maimed, displaced, and otherwise harmed an astonishing number of people (according to Ward Churchill) in its 241-year record of murder and mayhem – including more than 20 million killed in 37 nations since 1945.

Direct Assault

A distinction exists between those Uncle Sam has directly assaulted and those he has more indirectly attacked. Examples of direct assault are numerous and horrible to contemplate.

The history of direct U.S.-military mass killing since 1945 includes:

* The firebombing of Tokyo: roughly 100,000 Japanese civilians incinerated when U.S. bombers created the greatest firestorm in history.

Hiroshima (146, 000 killed with a single bomb – what U.S. president Harry Truman called “the greatest thing in history”) and (80,000) Nagasaki: savagely unnecessary and arch-criminal atom-bombings carried out even though the U.S. high command knew that Japan was defeated and ready to accept U.S. surrender terms).

Four million killed in Korea to prevent national unification under Left and Soviet-allied power there between 1950 and 1953.

* The “crucifixion of Southeast Asia” (Noam Chomsky’s term at the time): the U.S. and its allies killed at least 3 million Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians between 1962 and 1975. (Operation Phoenix, a CIA and military operation, alone killed 40,000 Vietnamese – more than wo-thirds the total U.S. body count in the so-called Vietnam War)

*Iran Air Flight 655: on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes crossed into Iranian waters and shot down an Iranian civilian plane, blowing 290 people out of the sky. (The Vincennes’ commander was granted an award for “exceptionally meritorious conduct.”)

*The “Highway of Death”:  U.S. fighter jets engaged in a frenzied slaughter of tens of thousands of surrendered Iraqi troops in 1991. (The Lebanese-American journalist Joyce Chediac testified that “U.S. forces continued to drop bombs on the convoys until all humans were killed. So many jets swarmed over the inland road that it created an aerial traffic jam, and combat air controllers feared midair collisions…. The victims were not offering resistance…it was simply a one-sided massacre of tens of thousands of people who had no ability to fight back or defend.”)

*Fallujah: the U.S. Marines waged chemical warfare and used radioactive ordnance in the process of leveling a great Iraqi city in April and November of 2004.

*Bola Boluk: an Afghan village where U.S. bombers blew 113 civilians (including dozens of children) to bits in May of 2009.

The U.S. drone war  program (2001 to present), aptly described by Noam Chomsky as “the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times”: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports a minimum number of U.S. 3,734 drone strikes with nearly 10,000 killed, including 1,427 civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen “since the Bureau began collecting data.”  (Chomsky’s description referred to Obama’s drone record; Trump has dramatically increased drone strikes).

Bayda Province, Trump’s first blood: US Navy special forces carried out a raid – planned under the Obama administration and handed off to the incoming Trump team – that killed 25 civilians, including 10 children in the mountainous Yakla region of Yemen’s Bayda province. One of the children killed was an eight-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, daughter of the Islamist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed on the order of Barack Obama in a September 2011 US drone strike in Yemen. Nawar’s older brother, 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, was killed in a second drone strike soon afterwards. The continued U.S.  slaughter of akl-Awlaki’s children was consistent with Trump’s campaign claims that he would kill the relatives of terrorist suspects – a war crime. The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families,” Trump pronounced on  Fox News in December 2015.

Proxy Killing

Dreadful as such moments of direct imperial butchery may be, the United States may well have killed, maimed, and displaced more people indirectly, through proxies and clients.

In 1954, a CIA-orchestrated coup removed the democratically elected Guatemalan and Left government of Jacobo Arbenz. Over the next four decades, U.S.-backed right-wing Guatemalan regimes killed tens of thousands of peasants, workers, students, and activists.

In 1960, the CIA killed the Congo’s first independent head of state, the Left anti-colonialist leader Patrice Lumumba. The United States subsequently backed the brutal Congolese dictator Joseph Mobuto, who killed hundreds of thousands. (The U.S. has since been significantly responsible for as many 3 million deaths in that resource-rich country ever since. It sponsors and protects the Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, whose body count in his own country and Congo runs into the tens of thousands.)

In 1965 and 1966, the United States worked with Britain and Australia to help orchestrate the overthrow the democratically elected Left government of Indonesia and the subsequent massacre of somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million Indonesian peasants, workers, intellectuals, and activists. Coup General Suharto received rich military and economic assistance from the U.S. over three decades of subsequent authoritarian rule.

In December of 1975, Suharto got a green light from his sponsors in Washington to invade East Timor. The Indonesian military received advanced weaponry from the United States and the U.S. client Israel as it brutally annexed the poor island nation and killed at least 180,000 of its inhabitants.

In 1973, a CIA-engineered coup overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Chilean president Salvador Allende and replaced him with the fascist butcher and close U.S. all General Augusto Pinochet.  Pinochet’s regime killed 30,000 workers, students, peasant, intellectuals and activists killed while introducing U.S.- (University of Chicago-) imported economic policies during the 1970s and 1980s.

A U.S.-sponsored and U.S.-equipped fascist regime in Argentina and allied death squads killed as many 30,000 workers, students, intellectuals, and activists in that country between 1974 and 1983.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Washington, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan created the extremist Islamo-Wahhabist forces that became al Qaeda and the Taliban as part of the U.S. Cold War with the Soviet Union and to destabilize a pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. These Sunni jihadist forces have killed hundreds of the thousands of people in Southwest Asia and the Middle East ever since.

U.S.-sponsored authoritarian regimes in Central America killed over 300,000 people during Ronald Reagan’s two terms. Lavish funding, training and equipment from Washington fueled this epic bloodshed. Victims were murdered and maimed as punishment for—and warnings against—participation in popular struggles to redistribute land and improve working and social conditions for peasants and workers in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Tens of thousands of Iranians were executed with U.S. economic, political, and military assistance and sponsorship by the Iranian dictator Mohammad Reza Shah Palevi, who was installed into power after a CIA-engineered coup overthrew Iran’s democratically elected Left government in 1953.

Between 1980 and 1988, the U.S. backed Iraq in an epic war with Iran. This horrific conflict produced at least 1 million Iranian casualties, including 300,000 soldiers killed and untold thousands still suffering from Iraqi chemical weapons developed with U.S. assistance.

The U.S.-sponsored and U.S.-armed Israeli government has killed hundreds of thousands if not millions (estimates vary) of Palestinians. It is a major recipient of U.S. military assistance as it continues to impose its vicious apartheid and settlement regime on the Palestinians with an iron fist.

An estimated 465,000 Syrians have been killed or gone missing in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, a conflict that has been significantly fueled by the U.S. and allied powers including Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary government on Earth, has slaughtered untold tens of thousands of dissenters and ethnic (Shia Muslim) minorities with U.S. arms, economic assistance, and diplomatic cover. It is home to the extreme Sunni-Wahabbist ideology that has fueled mass-murderous jihadists affiliated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State, which have received lavish funding from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi kingdom is a prized U.S. ally that has been visited by both President Obama and Trump in recent years. Trump went to Riyadh last May to seal a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis.

Untold tens of thousands of Black Africans died at the at hands of the U.S. supported apartheid regime of South Africa during the Cold War era.

U.S.-backed regimes and paramilitary forces (especially the UNITA armies that waged war on socialist Angola in the 1970s and 1980s) have killed many hundreds of thousands if not millions more in Africa since 1945. (Many hundreds of thousands of Congolese have died at the hands of the U.S.-sponsored Rwandan regime and related Congolese death squads in the post-Mobuto era. The current significantly U.S.-instigated South Sudanese civil war has killed an estimated 300,000.)

This is a very partial list. For a more comprehensive record, see William BlumRogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Common Courage, 2005) and Ward ChurchillOn the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Arrogance and Criminality (AK Press, 2003).

Given this record, it is hardly surprising that the United States has long been the nation that is most viewed by people the world over as the greatest threat to peace and security on the planet. This while the imperial homeland’s reigning media and politics culture claims that the United States is an exceptionally noble and democratic force for good and liberty the world over, leaving untold millions of U.S. Americans childishly clueless about the eternally and absurdly asked question: “why oh why do they hate wonderful us?”

Featured image is from the author.

%d bloggers like this: