Olduvaiblog: Musings on the coming collapse

Home » Posts tagged 'CHRIS HEDGES'

Tag Archives: CHRIS HEDGES

This house would call Edward Snowden a hero.

This house would call Edward Snowden a hero.

Video and Transcript – Oxford Union Debate

Chris Hedges speech arguing in favor of the proposition “This house would call Edward Snowden a hero.”

 

I have been to war. I have seen physical courage. But this kind of courage is not moral courage. Very few of even the bravest warriors have moral courage. For moral courage means to defy the crowd, to stand up as a solitary individual, to shun the intoxicating embrace of comradeship, to be disobedient to authority, even at the risk of your life, for a higher principle. And with moral courage comes persecution.

The American Army pilot Hugh Thompson had moral courage. He landed his helicopter between a platoon of U.S. soldiers and 10 terrified Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre. He ordered his gunner to fire his M60 machine gun on the advancing U.S. soldiers if they began to shoot the villagers. And for this act of moral courage, Thompson, like Snowden, was hounded and reviled. Moral courage always looks like this. It is always defined by the state as treason—the Army attempted to cover up the massacre and court-martial Thompson. It is the courage to act and to speak the truth. Thompson had it. Daniel Ellsberg had it. Martin Luther King had it. What those in authority once said about them they say today about Snowden. 

“My country, right or wrong” is the moral equivalent of “my mother, drunk or sober,” G.K. Chesterton reminded us.

So let me speak to you about those drunk with the power to sweep up all your email correspondence, your tweets, your Web searches, your phone records, your file transfers, your live chats, your financial data, your medical data, your criminal and civil court records and your movements, those who are awash in billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars, those who have banks of sophisticated computer systems, along with biosensors, scanners, face recognition technologies and miniature drones, those who have obliterated your anonymity, your privacy and, yes, your liberty.

There is no free press without the ability of the reporters to protect the confidentiality of those who have the moral courage to make public the abuse of power. Those few individuals inside government who dared to speak out about the system of mass surveillance have been charged as spies or hounded into exile. An omnipresent surveillance state—and I covered the East German Stasi state—creates a climate of paranoia and fear. It makes democratic dissent impossible. Any state that has the ability to inflict full-spectrum dominance on its citizens is not a free state. It does not matter if it does not use this capacity today; it will use it, history has shown, should it feel threatened or seek greater control. The goal of wholesale surveillance, as Hannah Arendt wrote, is not, in the end, to discover crimes, “but to be on hand when the government decides to arrest a certain category of the population.” The relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked and those who watch and track them is the relationship between masters and slaves.

Those who wield this unchecked power become delusional. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, hired a Hollywood set designer to turn his command center at Fort Meade into a replica of the bridge of the starship Enterprise so he could sit in the captain’s chair and pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, had the audacity to lie under oath to Congress. This spectacle was a rare glimpse into the absurdist theater that now characterizes American political life. A congressional oversight committee holds public hearings. It is lied to. It knows it is being lied to. The person who lies knows the committee members know he is lying. And the committee, to protect their security clearances, says and does nothing.

These voyeurs listen to everyone and everything. They bugged the conclave that elected the new pope. They bugged the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They bugged most of the leaders of Europe. They intercepted the talking points of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ahead of a meeting with President Obama. Perhaps the esteemed opposition can enlighten us as to the security threats posed by the conclave of Catholic cardinals, the German chancellor and the U.N. secretary-general. They bugged business like the Brazilian oil company Petrobras and American law firms engaged in trade deals with Indochina for shrimp and clove cigarettes. They carried out a major eavesdropping effort focused on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007. They bugged their ex-lovers, their wives and their girlfriends. And the NSA stores our data in perpetuity.

I was a plaintiff before the Supreme Court in a case that challenged the warrantless wiretapping, a case dismissed because the court believed the government’s assertion that our concern about surveillance was “speculation.” We had, the court said, no standing … no right to bring the case. And we had no way to challenge this assertion—which we now know to be a lie—until Snowden.

In the United States the Fourth Amendment limits the state’s ability to search and seize to a specific place, time and event approved by a magistrate. And it is impossible to square the bluntness of the Fourth Amendment with the arbitrary search and seizure of all our personal communications. Former Vice President Al Gore said, correctly, that Snowden disclosed evidence of crimes against the United States Constitution.

We who have been fighting against mass state surveillance for years—including my friend Bill Binney within the NSA—made no headway by appealing to the traditional centers of power. It was only after Snowden methodically leaked documents that disclosed crimes committed by the state that genuine public debate began. Elected officials, for the first time, promised reform. The president, who had previously dismissed our questions about the extent of state surveillance by insisting there was strict congressional and judicial oversight, appointed a panel to review intelligence. Three judges have, since the Snowden revelations, ruled on the mass surveillance, with two saying the NSA spying was unconstitutional and the third backing it. None of this would have happened—none of it—without Snowden.

Snowden had access to the full roster of everyone working at the NSA. He could have made public the entire intelligence community and undercover assets worldwide. He could have exposed the locations of every clandestine station and their missions. He could have shut down the surveillance system, as he has said, “in an afternoon.” But this was never his intention. He wanted only to halt the wholesale surveillance, which until he documented it was being carried out without our consent or knowledge.

No doubt we will hear from the opposition tonight all the ways Snowden should have made his grievances heard, but I can tell you from personal experience, as can Bill, that this argument is as cogent as the offer made by the March Hare during the Mad Tea Party in “Alice in Wonderland.”

“Have some wine,” the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.

“I don’t see any wine,” she remarked.

“There isn’t any,” said the March Hare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are so many laws and rules being thrown out? | Zero Hedge

Why are so many laws and rules being thrown out? | Zero Hedge.

The biggest problem facing investors today is that “the rules” of the game change almost every year.

 

What I mean is that any basic rule investors took for granted could be thrown out the window. Indeed, in the last five years we’ve seen:

 

1)   Accounting standards at financial institutions suspended.

2)   Capital requirements for banks (Basel III) postponed multiple times.

3)   Fraud go unpunished.

4)   Obvious insider trading amongst political officials and banking insiders.

5)   Central bankers openly admit that they will lie to investors.

 

Why are so many laws and rules being thrown out?

 

The Powers That Be are committed to propping the system up by any means possible.

 

Consider Spain.

 

Spain’s banking system, by any reasonable analysis, is totally bankrupt.

 

The reason for this is that Spanish banks are all packed to the brim with garbage assets (mortgage loans and Spanish Government bonds… which aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on).

 

Consider the story of Bankia.

 

Bankia was formed by merging seven bankrupt regional Spanish banks in 2010.

 

The new bank was funded by Spain’s Government rescue fund… which received “preference shares” in return for over €4 billion (from taxpayers).

 

These preference shares were shares that a) yielded 7.75% and b) would get paid before ordinary investors if Bankia failed again. So right away, the Spanish Government was taking taxpayer money to give itself preferential treatment over ordinary investors.

 

Indeed, those investors who owned shares in the seven banks that merged to form Bankia lost their shirts. They were wiped out and lost everything.

 

Bankia was then taken public in 2011. Spanish investment bankers convinced the Spanish public that the bank was a fantastic investment. Over 98% of the shares were sold to Spanish investors.

 

One year later, Bankia was bankrupt again, and required the single largest bailout in Spain’s history: €19 billion. Spain took over the bank and Bankia shares were frozen on the market (meaning you couldn’t sell them if you wanted to).

 

When the bailout took place, Bankia shareholders were all but wiped out, forced to take huge losses as part of the deal. The vast majority of them were individual investors (the bank currently faces a lawsuit for over 140,000 claims of mis-selling shares).

 

So that’s two wipeouts in as many years.

 

The bank was taken public a year a second time later in May 2013. Once again Bankia shares promptly collapsed, losing 80% of their value in a matter of days. And once again, it was ordinary investors who got destroyed.

 

Indeed, things were so awful that a police officer stabbed a Bankia banker who sold him over €300,000 worth of shares (the banker had convinced him it was a great investment).

 

Which brings us to today.

 

Bankia remains completely bankrupt. But its executives and the Spanish Government continue to claim that things are improving and that the bank is on the up and up. Indeed, just a few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article titled “Investors Show Interest in Bankia.”

 

The story featured a quote from Spain’s Finance Minister that, “… it is logical. The perception of Spain has improved and Banki has improved a lot.”

 

Bear in mind, this is a bank that has wiped out investors THREE times in the last THREE YEARS. So that’s three different rounds of individual investors being told that Bankia was a great investment and losing everything.

 

Every single one of these wipeouts was preceded by both bankers and Spanish Government officials claiming that “everything had been fixed” and that Bankia was a success story.

 

And now the Spanish Government is trying to convince them to line up for a fourth round.

 

This kind of fraud and lawlessness is unbelievable to me. But it is indeed how the world works today. Those who have power will do anything they can to retain it. This includes, lying, cheating, and stealing.

 

And while certain items relating to this story are unique, the morals to Bankia’s tale can be broadly applied across the board to the economy/ financial today.

 

Those morals are:

 

1)   Those in charge of regulating the system will lie, cheat and steal rather than be honest to those who they are meant to protect (individual investors)

2)   Any financial problem that surfaces will be dealt with via fraud or lies rather than taking a hit. This will include short selling bans, stocks being frozen, bail-ins, and worse.

3)   When the inevitable collapse finally does hit, it will be individual investors and the general public who get screwed.

 

For a FREE Special Report outlining how to profit from bear market crashes and bull market runs, swing by: http://phoenixcapitalmarketing.com/special-reports.html

 

Best Regards

Phoenix Capital Research

 

Chris Hedges: The Detention of Greenwald’s Partner on Terrorism Charges Amounts to the “Criminalization of Journalism”.

Chris Hedges: The Detention of Greenwald’s Partner on Terrorism Charges Amounts to the “Criminalization of Journalism”..

Last Friday it was reported that British officials detained David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, earlier this year at London’s Heathrow Airport for his alleged, quote, espionage and, quote, terrorism for transporting documents provided by former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Now joining us to discuss this and other recent revelations about the NSA is Chris Hedges. Chris is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. He’s a columnist for Truthdig, author of many books, including the best-selling Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.

Thank you so much for joining us, Chris.

CHRIS HEDGES, JOURNALIST, SENIOR FELLOW AT THE NATION INSTITUTE: Thank you.

NOOR: So, Chris, let’s start off by getting your response to the British government accusing David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, who often collaborates with Greenwald, of, quote, espionage and terrorism and saying those were some of the reasons why they held him for hours on end at Heathrow without letting him speak to his lawyer or anyone else.

HEDGES: Well, they didn’t just told him. They seized all of his electronic equipment–his computer, his phone–because they were looking for some of the files that Greenwald has been using to publish his stories that were leaked by Edward Snowden. And this is just part of the criminalization of journalism which has taken place not only within the United States but within countries like Great Britain as well.

NOOR: Britain doesn’t have the same safeguards for journalists as places like the U.S. do. It was also reported earlier this year that the British authorities threatened to seize The Guardian‘s hard drives containing a lot of this material. What are the bigger–what’s the bigger ramifications for journalism not only in Britain but the rest of the world?

HEDGES: Well, there aren’t any safeguards left within the United States as well. I mean, remember that the security and surveillance state seized all of the AP phone records. And let’s not forget that the security and surveillance state has the phone–all of the electronic communications of every journalist in this country. They’ve used the Espionage Act aggressively seven times, the last time being against Snowden, to make sure nobody does talk to the press to expose the inner workings of power.

So we once had, at least legally, more protection as journalists than were provided to journalists in Great Britain. But all of it’s gone up in smoke, both here and there. There is no protection left. Jim Risen at The New York Times is fighting back against government efforts to make him reveal his sources in the story on more or less wiretapping, and he said that he would be willing to go to jail rather than give up those sources. So this is kind of a global assault where we’re not at this point any more protected here than we are anywhere else. And what this really, I think, points to is the fact that the security and surveillance state is global and it serves, essentially, global power, which is corporate.

NOOR: Now, the NSA and its defenders, they cite 54 terrorist plots they have been able to supposedly thwart due to this massive spying. But a recent report by ProPublica found that the NSA was only able to provide evidence in four of those cases. Why do you think the NSA is not providing additional evidence for those remaining 50 cases?

HEDGES: Well, because they’re lying. And, you know, government officials like Clapper have been lying throughout this entire process. Barack Obama has lied. And that’s just part of, you know, the spin that they’re throwing out.

What’s interesting is that a lot of times when they lie, they get caught because of courageous whistleblowers like Snowden who expose their lives. And I was a victim of this in the–I was part of one of the plaintiffs in the Amnesty International v. Clapper lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court threw out the case because they said I and the other plaintiffs did not have standing. And they made that judgment on the fact that the government said that if any of us were being watched or had government surveillance, we would be informed.

Well, we now know that the government lied, and we know the government lied because of the leaks by Snowden. So this is a government that, like most governments, has a very callous regard for the truth. And, you know, if you believe that they stopped 54 terrorism plots, then, you know, come see me. I’ll sell you land in Florida, the Brooklyn Bridge.

NOOR: Ed Snowden has continued to provide outlets like The New York Times, which released a front-page story Sunday about ongoing new information about NSA programs, yet backers and supporters of the NSA continue to push back. Some of the arguments include saying, if you have nothing to hide, there is nothing to worry about; this NSA spying shouldn’t concern you. Is there any historical precedent for citizens to be concerned about government surveillance? And how do you respond to arguments such as those?

HEDGES: Well, you don’t want to give this kind of power to the state, because–and I speak as a journalist–because it makes it absolutely impossible to carry out any serious investigation of power. No source is going to reach out to you, because they know full well that the government has all of the electronic footprints that you make in trying to contact a journalist. And I think one of the reasons that Snowden went public almost immediately is that he knew that the government had all of Greenwald’s communications and it he would very quickly trace it back to him. That’s the problem.

It’s not a matter of nothing to hide. That’s an inverted question. The government has a lot to hide. And this kind of mechanism is a kind of a failsafe device by which whatever the government wants to do, however criminal, however corrupt, however fraudulent, however anticonstitutional, it never gets found out. That’s the real issue.

NOOR: And in light of Snowden’s revelations about how the U.S. government is spying on the German government, including tapping Angela Merkel’s cell phone, over 50 public figures in Germany have called for the German government to grant Snowden asylum. What’s your response to this growing–both the growing backlash against what Snowden has revealed and growing support in places like Germany that he be protected?

HEDGES: Well, I hope he does get granted asylum. He’s only got a kind of temporary one-year asylum in Russia. And I hope some government steps in to give him the kind of safeguards that he should have within this country but is probably never going to get. You know.

I mean, the tapping of Merkel’s phone is a kind of window into how this pervasive intrusion of privacy and surveillance has nothing to do with terrorism. It has to do with iron control, even among people who are purported to be our allies. And it isn’t just Merkel–I mean, the millions of records that they swept up in Spain and France. And it is a absolutely staggering intrusion into the lives not only of Americans but of foreign citizens. And it has nothing to do with protecting those citizens, and it has everything to do with protecting a state, security and surveillance state, corporate state that has less and less legitimacy as these kind of revelations become more public. You know, it’s clear that we have undergone a kind of corporate coup d’état in slow motion, and it’s global.

NOOR: Chris Hedges, thank you so much for joining us.

HEDGES: Thank you.

NOOR: You can follow The Real News @TheRealNews on Twitter, and you can follow me @JaisalNoor. Feel free to Tweet me questions, comments, or story suggestions.

Thank you so much for joining us.

End

%d bloggers like this: