Citizenfour

President Barack Obama,

Just watched the movie “Citizenfour“. It is pretty damning account of the crimes of our intelligence services against, well, everyone. I highly recommend it to you.

The intelligence services who all report to you.

The intelligence services whose leaders have forgotten to whom they are ultimately responsible.

The intelligence services whose leaders know that you are not going to hold them accountable.

Enjoy,

citizenfour

Drone Statistics Update

Two years ago, I posted a letter to President Obama detailing what the Bureau of Investigative Journalism had documented about the deaths and injuries our United States has inflicted on the people of the middle east with our drone weapons. As the Intercept has recently published a series of articles about the drone war, it was past time to post again on this topic.

Casualty estimates

Reported deaths and injuries

Pakistan 2004–2015 CIA Drone Strikes

Bureau of Investigative Journalism complete Pakistan datasheet

Most recent strike: September 1 2015
Total strikes: 421
Obama strikes: 370
Total killed: 2,476-3,989
Civilians killed: 423-965
Children killed: 172-207
Injured: 1,158-1,738

Yemen 2002–2015 US Covert Action

Bureau of Investigative Journalism Complete Yemen datasheet

Most recent strike: September 21 2015
Confirmed drone strikes: 107-127
Total killed: 492-725
Civilians killed: 65-101
Children killed: 8-9
Injured: 92-223
Possible extra drone strikes: 81-97
Total killed: 338-490
Civilians killed: 26-61
Children killed: 6-9
Injured: 78-105

Other covert operations: 15-72
Total killed: 156-365
Civilians killed: 68-99
Children killed: 26-28
Injured: 15-102

Somalia 2007–2015 US Covert Action

Bureau of Investigative Journalism Complete Somalia datasheet

Most recent strike: July 15 2015
Drone strikes: 15-19
Total killed: 25-108
Civilians killed: 0-5
Children killed: 0
Injured: 2-7

Other covert operations: 8-11
Total killed: 40-141
Civilians killed: 7-47
Children killed: 0-2
Injured: 11-21

Afghanistan

Most recent strike: October 19 2015
Confirmed strikes: 155
Total killed: 647-940
Civilians killed: 36-94
Children killed: 3-21
Injured: 116-121

Possible extra strikes: 32
Total killed: 168-217
Civilians killed: 0-3
Children killed: 0-2
Injured: 9

Just Say No – TPP

President Barack Obama,

Congratulations!

You have finally succeeded!

You have completely alienated your Progressive supporters. With your push in attempting to gain the authority to fast-track an up or down vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade agreement; we have been forced to accept the same conclusion as Brother Cornel West, in that we progressives collectively cannot respect you as a person or a leader.

    • Your excessive secrecy did not do it.
    • Your Intelligence agencies collecting the phone and Internet communications of everyone in the world did not do it.
    • Your continued operation of the no longer so secret Guantanamo Bay military prison, and other more secret prisons around the world did not do it.
    • Your Justice Departments priorities in persecuting whistle-blowers while not prosecuting torturers and war criminals did not do it.
    • Your Justice Department ignoring the greatest financial fraud in the history of the world, and refusing to prosecute those responsible did not do it.
    • Your escalated ( and lately de-escalated ) assassination of people ( by drone, and by United States military personnel ) overseas did not do it.

But finally, your single-minded, no hold barred pursuit of this trade agreement, which promises more profit to multi-national companies and fewer legal protections for your fellow citizens – THIS is where you focus your attention and time.

No one is more disappointed in you than myself.

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Oversight

Senator Dianne Feinstein,

I have been very critical of your oversight of the Intelligence Services of our United States – especially in my letter to you and the Senate Select Committee on 25 September 2014. I know it is difficult to go against these so-called Defense and Intelligence professionals. All of us are brought up to be polite to our parents, our teachers, and our leaders. But at some point, we become the parents, the teachers, and the leaders. We then have to make the decision: do we stand idly by (being polite and politic) and allow our country to descend into the abyss of state sanctioned torture and assassination, or do we call out these monsters who hide in the shadows of redacted documents; committing atrocities in the name of our United States.

Your releasing the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee report on CIA Wrongdoing – The CIA Torture Report – was unexpected, and greatly appreciated. You seemed to only push for the release of this summary because you knew that with the 114th Congress; the Republican party becomes the majority in the Senate: and the new chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will most probably bury this report.

How I wish that our honorable Representatives, Senators, Presidents, etc. would base their actions on their beliefs and their own sense of right and wrong; rather than be forced to act because one faction (or other) gains control over part of our government. But then, I am an idealist, and I should not be overly critical of any fellow citizen who does our country a great service, whatever their reason.

I salute you, Senator Feinstein, for getting this information to the American people.

Thank you,

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Senate Torture Report Executive Summary

I had thought that I had inured myself to this subject. Most of the information in this summary has been known to anyone who cared to know for some time. It is like being shut in a sealed room where poison gas has slowly, bit by bit, been released into the room over the last 12 years; and we suddenly realize that we are choking.

There is something startling though when the information is released officially. Even if the Senate select committee on Intelligence could not bring themselves to use the word ‘torture’ in over 6000 pages of report.

I would like one question answered  – by anyone in the former administration of George W Bush.

When the photos were released from Abu Ghraib prison, showing these torture policies in practice. Why did Bush Administration officials prosecute low level military officers and enlisted personnel for what was the official policy of the United States?

Our United States punished low level military people supposedly for abusing these prisoners – but really these military people (and the men who were their victims and prisoners) were just in the wrong place at the wrong time – and left holding the bag by their superiors.

Justice

Eric H. Holder Jr. Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Eric. H. Holder, Jr.,

As the chief law enforcement officer of our United States, I would pose a question to you.

With the ‘secret’ legal system which has been established in our United States, how can I as a citizen or anyone in the world; know when we are breaking the law of the United States?

Don’t even try to argue that the laws of the United States don’t apply to anyone living anywhere on earth. The current capabilities our military has developed allow our government to individually ( albeit imprecisely ) target anyone on earth. The government of which you are a part, has assassinated by drone missile thousands of people; including United States citizens.

When King Hammurabi of Babylon ( 1792 BC to 1750 BC ) established his law – he had the text carved onto stone and displayed in several prominent locations of his kingdom.

When Napoleon Bonaparte established a new legal system for France, he published it on 21 March 1804. There have been hundreds of printings – the text was made as widely available as possible.

We seem to have in the United States a whole shadow legal system. This week a heavily redacted version of the memo with the legal justification for the assassination of the United States citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was finally made public which then refers to yet another memo which is still secret.

I submit to you that the whole ‘War on Terror’ legal framework is wrong. That the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) resolution should be submitted for review to the United States Supreme Court; along with all the actions that the government of our United States has taken based on it. If your Justice Department is interested in Justice – you should be doing everything you can to get this law invalidated. I believe that all the criminal actions of our government, the torture, indefinite imprisonment, assassination of both United States citizens and others, and the domestic spying on the citizens of our United States; would be sufficient justification even to the current members of the United States Supreme Court, that the United States government cannot be given the latitude of a law like the AUMF: which allows practically any government action.

Unfortunately, in my above appeal to you, I have left out how active a role you have played in the ‘War on Justice Terror’.

You, Eric H. Holder Jr., the Attorney General of the United States are just as culpable as President Barack Obama. The lawyers working for our United States ‘Justice’ Department argue the government’s position: defending indefinite imprisonment, defending assassination, defending domestic data collection; all under the cloak of national security. Even after these terrible abuses of power have been made public by heroes like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, your lawyers deny the very existence of this publicly known information to be admitted into United States courts.

The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki demonstrates how your ‘Justice’ Deparment provides cover to the United States government. Anwar al-Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki brought a case before the federal court in Al-Aulaqi v. Obama. Before his son was assassinated by the United States, Nasser al-Awlaki attempted to plead for mercy, for due process, for some kind, any kind; of judicial review from your ‘Justice’ Department. Your lawyers won the case: a father does not have standing in United States federal court to ask for due process of law for his son. No judicial review for the deliberate assassination of an United States citizen who is critical of our government.

I believe King Hammurabi of Babylon would have heard Nasser al-Awlaki’s petition.

I believe even Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte would have heard Nasser al-Awlaki’s petition.

Where is the justice in your government department?

Somebody has got to lead the United States back to sanity.

Is it going to be you?

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Justice

President Barack Obama,

As I predicted, in my letter of 18 March 2014; the contents of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on CIA wrongdoing is leaking. Bit by bit, page by page, it is going to be published – unofficially if it must – but it is all going to come out. Every day you delay in ordering it declassified will be to the detriment of your legacy as the 44th President of our United States.

And this joke of the process of declassification! Allowing the CIA to determine what should be declassified in a report that the CIA never wanted compiled in the first place.

Your decision to passively allow this tug of war between the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and the Central Intelligence Agency is an act of non-feasance: a willful decision on your part to fail to act when you are legally obligated to act. Your decision not to act; to not designate some other group or organization to handle the declassification of the Senate report, or better yet – to just declassify the entire report: is a great insult to all Americans.

During the George W Bush administration, torture had became a routine part of the CIA toolkit. You are obligated under International treaty obligations to task the United States Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute those responsible. The fact that you have not done so is a further act of non-feasance on your part. You are now an accessory after the fact, and could be prosecuted for torture (crimes against humanity) yourself. I am sure that George W Bush and Richard Cheney are rather uncomfortable (at least I hope so) to leave the United States. George W Bush had to cancel a trip, Richard Cheney canceled this trip, because they had heard that they might be arrested in countries that take International law a great deal more seriously than we do. When you leave office; you’ll have to be careful about where you travel for the rest of your life.

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Secrets

President Barack Obama,

I am glad to see you issuing your recent executive orders. With Congress tied up in partisan knots – especially in the House of Representatives – it is not likely that anything productive will come out of the Congress until after the mid-term elections.

There was a news story last week that I thought I might bring to your attention. It is Senator Feinstein’s change of heart about her friends at the CIA. It is not christian, or gentlemanly of me; but I must now laugh at Senator Feinstein. She has certainly made of herself an idiot on this issue.

Even though Senator Feinstein has immunity to release the Intelligence committee approved 6000+ page report on CIA wrongdoing to the public – by simply publishing it in the Congressional record – she has not done so. Even after all the recent revelations leaving Senator Feinstein repeatedly embarrassed by the brazen lying of the Intelligence community to her oversight committee – she still does not understand or is too intimidated by the Intelligence services to do her job. She cannot even bring herself to use the word ‘torture’ in open session in the Senate of the United States: even after we all know that torture has taken place. She seems to have forgotten why she is in the Senate, and to whom she should be responsible.

One thing has kind of been overlooked in all the reporting on this issue. The Central Intelligence Agency works for you. As President of our United States, you can call the CIA and order them to do things. If they do not do them – you could order the army over to Langley, Virginia to take the place apart. But. you. have. not.

If you wanted to, you could order the declassification of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report. Don’t you know by now, that a government report that is this damaging and sexy will be leaked by somebody? Some anonymous staffer in the Senate or in the CIA will leak the report. If you release this report, you can get out in front of this issue instead of having it drag you around like an over-sized dog. It is already being reported, that this is just the latest way that you are covering up the crimes of the Bush Administration. You are not running for office again. You have nothing to lose by declassifying this report and everything to gain. Your gain could be the restoration of the honor of our United States.

The report will be released: now or later.

The release of the report could be to your credit, or will add to your already established legacy of covering up for George W Bush.

It is up to you.

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Veterans Day

President Barack Obama,

As a veteran of the United States Navy, I’ve always been rather embarrassed by the tributes, etc. which are generally offered to ‘honor’ us. Whenever anyone asks me what I did in the Navy I generally reply (as any liberal, wisecracking, former enlisted man should) that my service was during the Reagan administration; so I was keeping the world safe from Democracy.

What I actually did in the Navy was to maintain the electronics of the four E2-C HawkEye aircraft in my squadron – Carrier Air Early Warning 117 (VAW-117). I was just a very small cog in the most complex weapons system (the carrier task force) that has ever been imagined or organized in the history of the world. Far from my service being a sacrifice: it was a great deal of fun. I traveled to many countries around the Pacific. I had interesting electronic problems to trouble-shoot and repair. I gained priceless experience in systems design and maintenance which were useful to me later in earning my Engineering degree and in my career in Information Technology. And the entire time, I was paid (although not terribly well) to do it.

I have too slowly come to realize just how much truth was in my wisecrack about my service, as the United States has fallen under our self-imposed shadow in the war on Terrorism.

Under the administrations of both President George W Bush and yourself, the United States has abandoned even the pretense of virtuous military action in the world. We have asked our military and Intelligence services to keep us safe at any cost: abandoning all standards of civilized behavior.

We are now the killers of the innocent.

We imprison and torture those we believe may threaten us in any way.

We self-righteously lecture the rest of the world about ‘International Law’, while observing none of these same rules of behavior ourselves. The only true lesson from our behavior now being our own hypocrisy.

The 11th Day of the 11th Month was supposed to represent the hope of the end of war. Please do something, anything; to stop our endless war and reduce the further infamy of our country.

Please stop the murders of our fellow men and women overseas.

Please pardon and release all those imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and elsewhere.

Please start a truth and reconciliation commission to lay bare the crimes of our country. Only the sunlight of public disclosure can dispel the darkness we’ve been living under for the past 12 years.

FISA Improvements? Act

Senator Dianne Feinstein,

Are you just a dupe of the NSA or are you complicit in allowing the NSA to gather as much information about us as the agency has the digital storage space to save?

Your FISA Improvements Act seems to allow the collection of meta-data which hitherto has not been precisely (open to interpretation) legal. In effect, legalizing after the fact the collection of meta-data.

This legislation is not an improvement. This legislation is not reform. This legislation is a gift to your buddies at the NSA.

What I’m really curious about, is what you could possibly get out of this. If you are the dupe; you are so frightened of the terrorists out there, that you want to give carte blanche to the Intelligence services – the same Intelligence services to which you are supposed to be providing oversight. If you are the coldly calculating enabler of the Intelligence services, then maybe you are also afraid. Afraid of what the American people are going to do when they finally realize how badly they’ve been screwed by our leaders, who beholden to the 1%; rig the system against the 99%.

Please think about what you are doing. I believe it would be far better for the United States if the NSA were completely dismantled. This pernicious capability we have created for collecting and processing information is not going to make the United States safer, and it already is being used against the citizens of the United States as well as everyone else (innocent or not) in the world. How long will it be before we have a spymaster willing to manipulate the United States government behind the scenes because he/she knows everyone’s secrets and is willing to use this leverage. The path you have us on will ultimately result in the Intelligence services running the government – not the other way around.

I am copying Senator Dick Durbin, and Representative Jan Schakowsky on this letter and am asking them to vote against this legislation or the House version if it comes up for a vote. And further, that they should support the USA Freedom Act – Introduced by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner and Senator Patrick Leahy.