Podcast Show #18

The Boiling Frogs Presents Daniel Ellsberg

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Dan Ellsberg provides us with his analysis of Barack Obama’s presidency, shares with us what led him to cast his vote for Obama, and how and why he’s been let down and betrayed by our current president. He discusses the stark similarities between the previous administration and Obama’s Whitehouse on issues and abuses related to civil liberties, and questions the possibility of ‘hoping’ again. Mr. Ellsberg talks about his experience as a whistleblower, the futility of disclosure to Congress then and today, the current sorry state of the US media, and more!

Ellsberg Dan Ellsberg graduated from Harvard in economics in 1952, served in the US Marine Corps from 1954-57, and obtained a PhD in economics from Harvard while working for the Rand Corporation in 1962. In 1964 he joined the Defense Department to work principally on decision-making in the Vietnam War. Mr. Ellsberg precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a Top-Secret Pentagon study of US government decision-making about the Vietnam War, to the New York Times and other publications. Ellsberg has ever since campaigned for peace and encouraged others to speak truth to power.

Here is our guest Dan Ellsberg unplugged!

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Updates & Weekly Round Up for December 19

Boiling Frogs Updates, Obama’s Preferred Killing Machines, Obama: Armed & Dangerous with States Secrets Privilege, & More

A major snow storm in effect with seven inches of snow already on the ground, fireplace roaring in the background, an ultra large mug of traditionally brewed Darjeeling tea sitting next to my pc, and my now 17 month old daughter playing right in front of the window where she can have a full view of the winter wonderland, make up the personal side of my update for this Saturday.

As for site updates, not much to report. Our site traffic this week was simply amazing, which is what it takes to get me going and make my ambitious to-do list even longer and more outrageous than it already is!

Peter B and I had a very interesting and informative string of interview sessions: Daniel Ellsberg, Nafeez Ahmed, and Andy Worthington. There will be no new interview posted next week, since I’ll be taking a real break from my computer for a few days starting on Wednesday, Dec 23. After that, I still have our interview with Mark Klein (AT&T-NSA) to post, and after that we’ll have the new year series starting with Dan Ellsberg.

I’ve been working with two producer-editor friends on a very exciting new project for Boiling Frogs Post. We’re planning to produce and publish an exclusive online documentary series, and we are already rolling! I won’t give out too much here, but in a month or so we’ll have much more to report on this. Stay tuned.

Now, here are a few items of interest:

Obama’s Preferred Killing Machines: Drones, drones, and more drone attacks

DronePresident Obama and his hawks are planning to increase the number of drone attacks. Since the new administration has taken office, the campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan, which ironically began during the final months of the Bush administration, has intensified significantly. The US establishment media’s reporting on this issue has been limited to cursory and ultra-shallow pieces with a cosmetic line or two to give the effect of covering all sides; I’m sure all are vetted, approved, and dictated by the usual puppet masters. Absent in almost all these reports are: the real number of civilian casualties and the implications, and the real assessment of the purpose and effectiveness of our new president’s preferred killing machines in our undeclared wars.

Let me give you a few examples and a bit of a context:

Here are a few excerpts from L.A. Times reporting on this:

Senior U.S. officials are pushing to expand CIA drone strikes beyond Pakistan's tribal region and into a major city in an attempt to pressure the Pakistani government to pursue Taliban leaders based in Quetta.

Okay, so that’s the introduction. They sanitize the real purpose with key words: Taliban Leaders. They want the reader to take that as the purpose.  Next is this:

The proposal has opened a contentious new front in the clandestine war. The prospect of Predator aircraft strikes in Quetta, a sprawling city, signals a new U.S. resolve to decapitate the Taliban. But it also risks rupturing Washington's relationship with Islamabad.

As you can see it is indirectly, but not very subtly, justifying and cheering the drone attacks. Pay special attention to the following: ‘A new U.S. Resolve’- As in a strong, determined new administration, and ‘decapitate the Taliban’- as in wiping out the big bad evil shalvars-wearing curly-bearded cavemen who have been somehow declared, without technically being declared, as the terrorists and culprits in 9/11.

The side effect, the only tiny side effect aka risk cited is: oh it may put a little dent in our relationship with Pakistan.

The propaganda piece published by the stenographers at LA Times first offers the mike to the proponents of upping the killing machines:

The concern has created tension among Obama administration officials over whether unmanned aircraft strikes in a city of 850,000 are a realistic option. Proponents, including some military leaders, argue that attacking the Taliban in Quetta -- or at least threatening to do so -- is critical to the success of the revised war strategy President Obama unveiled last week.

As for the opponents, they only site the possibility of some dents on our relationship with Pakistan:

But others, including high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials, have been more skeptical of employing drone attacks in a place that Pakistanis see as part of their country's core. Pakistani officials have warned that the fallout would be severe.” We are not a banana republic," said a senior Pakistani official involved in discussions of security issues with the Obama administration. If the United States follows through, the official said, "this might be the end of the road."

And finally, the stenographers continue with this glowing report on this now widely popular war machine strategy, albeit stating a false and unproven success record:

The CIA has carried out dozens of Predator strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt over the last two years, relying extensively on information provided by informant networks run by Pakistan's spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence.


The campaign is credited with killing at least 10 senior Al Qaeda operatives since the pace of the strikes was accelerated in August 2008, but has enraged many Pakistanis because of civilian casualties.

….

The so-called report conveniently omits the number of civilian casualties, the ratio between the actual targets hit and the innocents murdered, the real cost, and the implications when it comes to probable violation of sections 4 and 5 of Article 51, which prohibits attacks that treat military and civilian objects as one and the same. Yap, as always, the establishment media provides zip zip zilch on all the important facts and issues that really matter. Now, please read this propaganda trash that is being marketed by not only the L.A. Times stenographers but almost all the other establishment propaganda machines collectively referred to as the US Media.

Now, let’s look at some facts and reality points involving these drone attacks our new president seems to be so enamored with:

The US Drone Attacks, its Casualties, and the Implications

DroneVictimHow long have we been hearing and reading glowing reports by our establishment media on ‘allegedly killed Al Qaeda Leaders’ and the glowing success of our drone attacks? And, once in a while, in small print, back-page, after-the-fact, corrections saying ‘ooooppps, now they say it couldn’t be confirmed whether these top Al Qaeda targets were actually killed’? You know exactly what I’m talking about. So, where are the balancing reports that are alleged, and in some cases supported and confirmed, from the other side?

For instance, there are reports that allege that between January 2006 and April 2009, U.S. drone attacks have killed 687 civilians and 14 al-Qaeda operatives, amounting to a ratio of 50 civilians killed per one al-Qaeda target killed. In other words, our drone attacks civilian death ratio has been around 95%. Or that of 60 drone strikes only 10 of them hit actual al-Qaeda targets, because of either faulty intelligence or reasons deemed top classified. [Read more...]

Let’s Talk about VUI: Voting Under the Influence

Revisiting ‘The Lesser of Two Evils’ Mentality

The real face of our two-party but one-establishment system of politics seems to have made a rare appearance again with Obama’s speech last Tuesday. That is, to those among the wannabe gullible majority, since a small fraction have known this true face for a while. The good news is that finally we are seeing a significant number of apologists who are coming to the realization of being taken for a ride during this last election. The not so good news has to do with the depth of this new realization, thus the extreme vulnerability of being misdirected and exploited again, over and over, as has been done for decades.

ObamaSpeechArticleLast May I put forth a discussion topic on the issue of casting votes based on the ‘lesser of two evils’ decision-making process. Here are the questions I posed back then, which I am posing again now that we have more people waking up to smell their new Whitehouse Roses:

“Don’t you consider this, at least to a degree, to be acceptance of ‘no hope for real change’ when it matters the most, during elections? First, to readily accept that we are limited to only choices that have been declared as viable by the same MSM and establishment we seek to change. Second, to helplessly adopt a mindset that says evilness is an inevitable prerequisite for viable candidates.”

Then this on the fallacy of justifying one’s choice-making process based on the ‘degree of evilness’:

“When it comes to ‘evilness,’ there is no reliable standard of measurement. Let’s say, for example, that the pre-selected options are: Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, and Senator McCain. How do you measure their degree of ‘evilness?’ For arguments sake, let’s say there is a ‘standard of evilness’ measurement, and when applied to these candidates you get the following data: on a scale of ‘0 to 100’ on the evilness measurement index (‘100’ being absolute evil, ‘0’ being no evil qualities), McCain ranks 98, Clinton 96, and Obama 94. Based on this do people feel justified in voting for the lesser of the given three, even though that candidate still ranks extremely high in ‘evilness’? I’m just asking. I really want to get your take on this.”

Many referred to the previous administration’s figureheads as evil; many of us would find that aptly put and easily justified. After all, they sanctioned torture practices, extraordinary rendition, and world-wide assassinations; they took away civil liberties and put in place police practices ironically named the Patriot Act; they increased secrecy and decreased (ceased) accountability; they established untouchability and granted themselves immunity fit for kings, such as the State Secrets Privilege invocations; they spied on and illegally wiretapped Americans with no cause or oversight; they lied and engaged in preemptive wars … [Read more...]