Shadow Government : Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single Superpower World Paperback – 4 Sep 2014
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'Engelhardt is good - very, very good indeed. Some of the information here will be new to many readers, and even his analysis of well-covered topics such as Abu Ghraib and the 2001 Invasion of Afghanistan is fresh and insightful.' - --Counterfire
About the Author
Tom Engelhardt created and runs the TomDispatch.com website, a project of the Nation Institute, where he is a fellow. He is the author of "The American Way of War" and "The United States of Fear," both published by Haymarket Books; a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the cold war, "The End of Victory Culture"; and of a novel, "The Last Days of Publishing." He lives in New York.
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for "The Intercept" and the author, most recently, of "No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State."
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Micah Sifry: The Big Disconnect: Why The Internet Hasn't Transformed Politics (Yet)
Darrell West: Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust
I won't repeat my summary reviews of those two books, here I will only say that while Tom Engelhardt is ably laying out the criminal insanity of what we have now in the way of a secret government that has become a "lockdown state" toxic to all forms of life everywhere, Micah has documented why the progressive and activist civil movements are dead in the water without a clue, and Darrell has documented how there are at least 25 billionaires out there who want to get it right but have no one to work with.
I am a former spy and the most published intelligence reformer in the English language -- and also the top Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, with Amazon reviews of over 300 books on the secret state, and many books on democracy, corruption, etcetera all easily accessed via the Reviews page at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog -- all my reviews add weight to this one book, which could serve as the spark that ignites a revolutionary fire in America.
Phrases from this book that jump out at me include, in addition to lockdown state and post-legal America, imperial power, conspiracy of stupidity, destabilization machine, thug state, and predator nation. The author provides an entire chapter that addresses how once clear terms have been turned on their heads by the Orwellian state -- love is hate, war is peace.
This is a book that is patriotic in the extreme, and will be considered treasonous by the fundamentalist loons who have the financial, ideological, and religious power to get through the November 2014 elections without any losses -- who is elected does not matter, because in a two-party tyranny (see Theresa Amato's Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny the other six parties (Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform, Socialist) and all Independents are SHUT OUT. We are re-electing shills -- traitors.
As a fan of William Greider (see for instance The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy and Chuck Spinney Defense Facts of Life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch, among many others I have reviewed here at Amazon, what I found most compelling about this book was the authors clarity and integrity in telling the truth about the US military-intelligence complex: the most expensive global capability for doing unintended harm while failing to accomplish any mission actually in the public interest. The author cannot be faulted on his logic or his details.
As fearfully negative as this book is about the present state of affairs, it pulls some punches, perhaps deliberately, perhaps because the author has not delved into these with the constant attention that I and others have devoted to them.
9/11. Allowed to happen. 13 countries warned us in advance, Dick Cheney scheduled the national counter-terrorism exercise for 9/11 months in advance, the investigation was a whitewash, an independent investigation as recommended by Richard Gage and Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth is still needed. 9/11 was a crime against humanity enabled by George Tenet then Director of Central Intelligence and Colin Powell then Secretary of Defense, the two people who should have had the integrity to stop Cheney is his tracks. This book cannot be fully appreciated without understanding that 9/11 was the coup moment. This was the JFK assassination on steroids, completing the capture of the US Government that started back then. Among many many books on the perfect storm that destroyed the US Constitution, see Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency (my review lists over 20 acts of treason by Cheney documented in the book) and A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies.
Academic, Civil Society, and Media Meltdown. The author naturally focuses on the facts of the national security state, with two books prominently cited (while many others are not): The Invisible Government and Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State. The other half of the story is that of the failure of all checks and balances. The national security state would not be possible if Justice Powell and the US Chamber of Commerce had not spent the last 25 years subverting the US legal system and ultimately capturing the US Supreme Court, where CITIZENS UNITED should have led to millions demanding the abject resignations of the failed Justices. It would not have happened with decades of failure in education, labor, religion, and the media. I still believe in America the Beautiful and the common sense of the average American, but until we break the country of its addition to drugs and toxic food that scrambles brains, we will continue to be a nation of serfs.
False Flag & Studied Incompetence. The national security state has, as the author documents so well, taken on a life of its own, but he is reluctant, it seems, to actually lay down the gauntlet on how false flag operations are used by the FBI and others to create a climate of fear. "False flag" is not in the index. From the FBI trying to give a retarded Muslim kid $3000 to move out of his mother's home and create a terrorist cell to Department of Homeland Security "exercises" passed off as real attacks, we have a massive lack of integrity in the US Government. Add to this the studied incompetence of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommending the N-95 mask that stops .3 micron threats when Ebola is a .08 micron threat -- and the ten months we have wasted because neither the White House nor the US intelligence community are competent at "whole" governance, and you have a government that is both toxic and incompetent.
Contractors and Loss of Ethics. I respect the focus on the book and the impossibility of pulling everything into it, but one area that I felt could have been integrated more thoroughly is that of contractors who now take up to 70% of the budget and provide 70% or more of the manning, all of whom are not US Government employees, not public servants, in constant conflict of interest, and generally lacking in ethics (as are their government counterparts, but the contracting world takes irresponsibility to another level).
Although the author strives to end on a positive note, lauding the golden era of journalism and the "rise of the reader," I don't buy it. I am equally optimistic about the future, but there is a great deal more blood, sweat, and tears to be extracted from the public before we have our Tunesian fruit seller precipitant moment, and the Republic explodes to demand Electoral Reform, a Balanced Budget, a Coalition Cabinet, and the Automated Payment Transaction Tax along with the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service (advisory: the tax code is how Congress blackmails big industries into paying into their political action funds -- currency and stock transactions are not taxed). For more information visit We the People Reform Coalition.
Tom Englehardt is a story-teller with credibility among tens of millions of US citizens if not a full hundred million. He has rendered a national service with this book, but I put the book down somewhat distressed because Micah's book is the other half of the story and no one wants to listen to Micah -- while at the same time, we have Lady Lynn Rothschild (from New Jersey no less), the Mars Family, and the "black sheep billionaires" of Europe and the West Coast all looking to fund a major impact investment that gets us out of our self-induced global depression, and none of them have a focal point such as I and a few others have been trying to provide.
So five stars for a story well-told that will reach millions -- but not quite a six-star special (my top ten percent) because there is no "next step," no call to arms, no aha moment in this book. It confirms our worst fears. It does not illuminate the path toward a restoration of governance of, by, and for We the People.
There are so many books I would recommend but I have only one link left, so here is my best shot, see my many lists of Amazon reviews for paths to many other authors whom I hold in high regard.
Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition
Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth, & Trust
We live in an age in which the most important facts are not seriously disputed and also not seriously known or responded to.
The United States' biggest public program of the past 75 years, now outstripping the rest of the world combined, is war preparations. The routine "base" military spending, not counting spending on particular wars, is at least 10 times the war spending, or enough to totally transform the world for the better. Instead it's used to kill huge numbers of people, to make the United States less safe, and to prepare for wars that are -- without exception -- lost disastrously. Since the justification of the Soviet Union vanished, U.S. militarism has only increased. Its enemies are small, yet it does its best to enlarge them. U.S. Special Operations forces are actively, if "secretly," engaged in war or war preparations in over two-thirds of the nations on earth. U.S. troops are openly stationed in 90 percent of the nations on earth, and 100 percent of the oceans. A majority of the people in most nations on earth consider the United States the greatest threat to world peace.
The U.S. military has brought death, terror, destruction, and lasting damage to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya -- and spilling out of Libya into Mali, sparked a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq that has spread to Syria, rendered Pakistan and Yemen more violent and insecure with drone strikes, and fueled violence in Somalia that has spilled across borders.
These facts are well-established, yet virtually incomprehensible to a typical U.S. news consumer. So, if they can be repeated brilliantly and convincingly, I say: the more times the better.
We're rendering the earth uninhabitable, and the October 27, 2014, issue of Time magazine includes a section headlined "Why the Price of Oil Is Falling -- And What It Means for the World." In reality, of course, it means devastation for the world. In Time it means a happy American oil boom, more sales for Saudi Arabia, and a good reason for Russia to rein in its military. Yes, the same Russia that spends 7% of what the United States does on its military. To get a sense of how Russia could rein in that military, here is a video of a Pentagon official claiming that Russia has physically moved closer to NATO (and put little green men into Ukraine).
Years ago I wrote an article for TomDispatch called "Bush's Third Term." Now of course we're into Bush's fourth term, or Clinton's sixth. The point is that presidential power abuses and war-making expand when a president gets away with them, not when a particular party or individual wins an election. Engelhardt explains how Dick Cheney's 1 percent doctrine (justifying war when anything that has a 1% chance of being a danger) has now become a zero percent doctrine (no justification is needed). Along with war today comes secrecy, which encompasses complete removal of your privacy, but also -- Engelhardt notes -- the abandonment of actual secrecy for "covert" operations that the government wants to have known but not to have held to any legal standard.
The White House went to the New York Times prior to President Obama's reelection and promoted the story that Obama personally goes through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays and carefully picks which ones to have murdered. There's no evidence that this hurt Obama's reelection.
The Bush White House went to the New York Times and censored until after Bush's reelection, the story that the government was massively and illegally spying on Americans. The Obama White House has pursued a vendetta against whistleblower Edward Snowden for making public the global extent of the spying. While Engelhardt tells this story with the usual suggestion that Snowden let us in on a big secret, I always assumed the U.S. government was doing what people now know it is. Engelhardt points out that these revelations have moved European and Latin American governments against the U.S. and put the fear of major financial losses into Silicon Valley companies known to be involved in the spying.
Engelhardt writes that with the NSA and gang having eliminated our privacy, we can now eliminate theirs by publicizing leaked information. At the same time, Engelhardt writes that dozens of Snowdens would be needed for us to begin to find out what the U.S. war machine is doing. Perhaps the point is that the dozens of Snowdens are inevitable. I hope so, although Engelhardt explicitly says that the shadow government is an "irreversible way of life." I certainly hope not, or what's the point of opposing it?
Engelhardt notes that the U.S. government has turned against massive ground wars, but not against wars, so that we will be entering an era of "tiny wars." But the tiny wars may kill in significant numbers compared with wars of centuries gone by, and may spark wars by others that rage on indefinitely. Or, I would add, we might choose to stop every war as we stopped the Syrian missile crisis of 2013.
Engelhardt pinpoints a moment when a turning point almost came. On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter proposed a massive investment in renewable energy. The media denounced his speech as "the malaise speech." "In the end, the president's energy proposals were essentially laughed out of the room and ignored for decades." Six months later, on January 23, 1980, Carter announced that "an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." The media took this speech quite seriously and respectfully, labeling it the Carter Doctrine. We've been having increasing trouble with people whose sand lies over our oil ever since.
There are some new and much better books out there on this subject. The very new "National Security and Double Government" by Prof Michael J. Glennon (2014) is such a book. Also, "The American
Deep State" by Prof Peter Dale Scott are two very recent brilliant efforts to articulate what's really going on in America today. Last but not least, Prof Sheldon Wolin's opus called "Democracy Incorporated" help us get our head around what's going on.
Last but not least, all the 5 star reviews of this book which dominate the page make me very suspicious indeed. How about a variety of reviews(good and bad) to be seen on the main page together - rather than being sidelined on the right of the screen.