Valentine’s Day

From page 405 of The Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA, by Douglas Valentine (Walterville, OR: Trine Day LLC, 2009):

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“Under George H.W. Bush,* the [Drug Enforcement Agency] became an adjunct of the counter-terror network that defines American foreign policy along ideological lines: investigating [Chile’s deceased president Salvador] Allende’s** associates in Chile was required, as was ‘looking away’ so [the next Chilean president Augusto] Pinochet’s associates could deal drugs with impunity.

”Today the DEA is a top-heavy bureaucracy ruled by ideologues unsullied by street work, strained through a sieve of security clearances, oblivious to their mandate and beholden only to political power brokers. They are successful because they can lie, cheat and steal from the public and Congress. This pack of PR experts preaches the party line, but is unable to manage the metaphorical ‘war on drugs.’ Thus the war goes on and on, and the same problems loom larger than ever.

”At the core of America’s drug problem is the ingrained corruption in our system: the lying, cheating and stealing epitomized by the Iran-Contra affair. The drug aspect of this corruption scandal erupted in 1996, when reporter Gary Webb published a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury [News] about CIA-supported Contra drug traffickers in Los Angeles. The ‘Dark Alliance’ exposé forced CIA Director John Deutsch to crisscross the country trying to convince the African-American community that the CIA did not cause the crack cocaine epidemic. He failed, but the mainstream media pilloried Webb and his supporters for unveiling the central role the Establishment plays in perpetuating the phony war on drugs. Establishment is defined as that ‘exclusive group of powerful people who rule a government or society by means of private agreements and decisions.’”

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The above is from the epilogue of Douglas Valentine’s authoritative 2009 book on the Drug Enforcement Agency—not to be confused with his authoritative The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (Verso, 2004).

A Massachusetts-based journalist, poet, novelist and private investigator, Valentine has had published eight or ten books, most of them overlooked by newspapers and magazines that carry book reviews.

His nonfiction ones are encyclopedic in depth, relying on interviews with key individuals involved as well as on other extensive research. They are generally highly readable. The parts that are less so are that way because he wants to be sure that the views of sources who are obscure to even people knowledgeable about his topics get their due attention, possibly because he knows they are not going to get it anywhere else.

This entry is a follow-up to yesterday’s, headed “Mission Creep,” the Pittsfield police chief’s term for his department’s being saddled with additional responsibilities piled on from time to time because of actions by the federal government. Dozens of examples from Valentine’s works alone could illustrate how this works for many police departments, and other departments of local and state governments.

For other info on his books, see https://www.douglasvalentine.com.

— Mark Channing Miller

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* Bush was appointed director of the CIA in 1976 by President Gerald Ford and  became vice president of the United States in 1981 and president in 1989.

** Allende was Chile’s president from 1970 until 1973 when he died in a U.S.-backed military coup d’etat on Sept. 11, 1973, after which General Augusto Pinochet became president of the military junta and then president and dictator until March 11, 1990.

 

 

 

 

‘Mission Creep’

Two news stories in yesterday’s and today’s editions of the Berkshire Eagle show that police reform appears to be on the march in Massachusetts.

* Today, the new statehouse reporter, Danny Jin, reports, HERE,* on a proposed law that would “strengthen use-of-force limits, end qualified immunity and reinvest correctional spending toward job creation. It is headed “State Senate bill would reform policing in Massachusetts.”*

* In yesterday’s story, Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn “questioned the foundations of current policing, saying in the Q&A portion of a Zoom meeting, “The system is broken, and it’s been getting more and more broken for my entire career.” The story is headed “Chief targets barriers on road to reform: Head of Pittsfield police highlights ‘broken’ system, ‘mission creep.’”*

Both stories open up large areas of discussion about what’s going on these days and has been for years and years—but can’t be reported properly in our newspapers and on TV and radio news programs. Both pertain to local police forces smaller than this city’s and to metropolitan police forces.

Here are two quotes from Chief Wynn:

“On Sept. 11, 2001, overnight, we became homeland security specialists and counterterrorism people. And then it stayed that way until the explosion in fenantyl, and then we all became anti-drug, anti-drug-smuggling experts. Every time there’s an incident of national significance, we get retained and reoriented.”

”I’m not familiar with another profession that’s experienced so much mission creep in the last 25 years, to the point where even our officers don’t know what’s expected of them.”

Police violence against blacks is the now-international topic in the spotlight (along with broadly systemic racism), rivaling the coronavirus pandemic, since George Floyd’s killing at the hands of four white Minneapolis police officers on May 25. It was not a big part of yesterday’s Eagle story. In part, this was because police violence against blacks has been less evident in Pittsfield than elsewhere. This, in turn, may be because Wynn, a Pittsfield native and Williams College graduate, is black himself. It may also be because the city boasts an active NAACP chapter, which which has good relations with city government

To hear Wynn tell it, to some extent police departments are handcuffed by expectations that they tackle the local results of the international drug trade and illegal immigration on top of their more traditional responsibilities. This is particularly galling and unfair when the news media don’t delve into the roots of much of international drug trafficking and terrorist networks.

Seldom do the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, come up in such a discussion, but in practically the wink of an eye the Department of Homeland Security was up and running with the quick enactment on Oct. 26, 2001, of the USA PATRIOT Act, spurred by the “9/11” attacks and the anthrax attacks that began a week later.

Tomorrow or the next day this blog will explore some of the context of the above.

— Mark Channing Miller

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* Eagle stories can be accessed online only by people who have paid subscriptions.

Questioning

Our daily in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, The Berkshire Eagle, keeps chugging along in the midst of coronavirus setbacks which worsened revenue challenges already bad enough. Judged by its peers as “The New England Newspaper & Press Association’s General Excellence Award Winner & Newspaper of the Year for Sunday Editions,” it sets a standard. Every day the Eagle has a number of things worth reading carefully.

Yesterday’s edition carried at least several of possible interest to readers of this blog. One is a New York Times News Service news story headed “White House denies reports of bounties.” It was a follow-up to a previous Times story on the bounties allegation, which the Eagle had also carried. The Times story is linked HERE, but a search will turn up numerous news stories about the alleged bounties matter.

Millions of Americans have heard, read or seen one or another of the news accounts about ‘’intelligence reports” that the Russian government paid bounties to Talliban-allied forces in Afghanistan to kill U.S. soldiers there. And that President Trump and others around him were less than clear or forthcoming about whether he knew about the reports. And how credible they are.

But there’s another side to this story, related HERE and HERE by Ray McGovern and HERE by Caitlin Johnstone. McGovern’s views are headlined by Consortium News “Russiagate’s Last Gasp” (June 29) and “New York Times Deploys Heavy Gun to Back ‘Intel’ on Russian Bounties” (July 1). Johnstone’s are more broad-brush, as the headline, “Seriously, Get the Hell Out of Afghanistan,” indicates.

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Today’s Eagle reports that Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, will be interviewed online Thursday, July 9, by the Eagle’s executive editor, Kevin Moran. The event is hosted by Berkshire Community College’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), and anyone may attend, virtually, for free by pre-registering HERE.

Acosta’s name rang a bell, so I looked him up online with “9/11” in the same flat rectangle as his name and came up with THIS, which is a brief encounter between him and Karl Golovin, a knowledgeable attendee at a forum who prefaced his question this way:

“I’ve previously addressed a question to Jeff Zucker, John King, Wolf Blitzer and Jake Zucker [all of CNN], provided documentation to each of them from AE911Truth.org that the official story of 9/11 is not true.”

Here’s his question:

”If the official story is not true, isn’t this the biggest story there is? And if CNN will not report the biggest story there is, isn’t everything else they’re reporting just nonsense, and fake news?”

Here’s Jim Acosta’s response:

”I would just say that … I would just say that you are putting out the story that, uh, terrorists did not hijack airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center on 9/11. [When the questioner tries, unsuccessfully, to interrupt, Jim Acosta drowns him out.] You, sir, are … you, sir, are … you, sir, are bringing us the biggest fake news of all, okay?” [Hand clapping for the CNN correspondent is heard from the audience.]

The questioner retorts: “Mr. Acosta, you are a liar!”

My assessment: Unless the YouTube video was somehow doctored to take out relevant parts of the exchange, the questioner said no such thing. Rather, he asserted that the documents from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth showed, at least for him, that the official government 9/11 narrative is not true. But that was the end of the exchange, and they were on to the next question for panelists. Acosta prevailed, at least in the short term, because, slightly raising his voice and speaking as if authoritatively into his microphone, he reframed and reworded the question—and viewers, including those present in the live audience, would remember his response rather than the question itself.

— Mark Channing Miller

Julian Assange Indicted Again

A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, returned a second superseding indictment against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange last week charging him with “offenses that relate to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States,” according to a Department of Justice statement released Wednesday.

What does it mean?

A search will turn up several news accounts of the action. THIS ONE dismissive of the worth of the indictment was sent out Thursday by Caitlin Johntone. It contains a wealth of links, including one to the Justice Department’s release and another to the indictment itself.

Science and Truth

The dawn from on high will visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow of death. — Luke 1: 78b-79a *

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The sun appears to be slowly setting on the United States as a country that can be taken seriously in the world except as a military power.

Under the headline “As E.U. Opens, It Aims to Keep Americans Out: Repudiation of Trump’s Pandemic Blunders,” the New York Times this morning carried a report by Matina  Stevis-Gridneff that opened:

“BRUSSELS — European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers reviewed by The New York Times.

“The prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.”

Near the end, the report tells of European Center for Disease Prevention and Control officials “warn[ing] negotiators that the case numbers were so dependent on the level of truthfulness and testing in each country, that it was hard to vouch for them ….”

The phrase “the level of truthfulness and testing” jumped out. In this country, scientific and other truthfulness has fallen by the wayside in matters related to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The executive and judicial branches of the U.S. government have downgraded the importance of truth when it comes to the facts on the ground of 9/11. And the news media (including the New York Times) have followed suit after some great reporting initially, apparently accepting as valid what might be called “government science.”

It’s not just Trump.

— Mark Channing Miller

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* From Luke 1: 57-80, a reading for today celebrating the nativity of St. John the Baptist, in The Revised New Jerusalem Bible

 

Berman Is Out

Geoffrey Berman’s firing as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York got lots of coverage. Readers can go to a search engine to find stories and editorials on it.

There is nothing in all the summaries of Berman’s tenure about his apparent refusal to present to a Federal Grand Jury stacks of evidence of a list of federal crimes committed in the destruction of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001–evidence at variance with the 9/11 Commission’s 2004 report.

It was provided in 2018 by the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, but readers will have to go to their website to find it, as the “free press” of this country won’t touch it.

 

 

 

 

What Is Going On?

In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous. — Aristotle (taken from a tea bag tab)

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul … there is no need to be afraid. — Matthew 10: 28a, 31a

All alone you’re just another brick in the wall. — From Pink Floyd’s best-known song

The times they are a-changin’. — From one of Bob Dylan’s best-known songs

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What is really going on, anyway?

Some of the elements of at least the surface of what is going on are readily available in newspapers and on the radio and on TV, with plentiful commentary by paid professional commentators. A lot of it is extraordinarily well done, and it is easy for people in their target audiences to rely solely on it for their views of what is going on, which is intended.

Then there’s the Internet, with most of the above available there, too, along with a range of news and views from other sources, a lot of the latter being rarely available in newspapers or on the radio or TV. If one tried to take in even the best of what’s available in newspapers and on radio and on TV, that would preclude going to these other sources.

Last night, I took well over an hour to listen to and watch a conversation, HERE, in which both participants give voice to information about the environmental movement and related organized activities that most people likely have zero awareness of. I won’t attempt to summarize the conversation but do recommend that visitors to this blog set aside an hour or two to do it justice.

Here’s an intro by Mark Crispin Miller of News From Underground, which alerted me to the conversation—he titled it it “Cory Morningstar on how the ‘climate movement’ and the ‘Green New Deal,’ are really all about DESTROYING nature”:

“Millions of well-meaning people, especially the young, have been adeptly played by mighty interests looking to realize the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” so as to make themselves still wealthier, and further tighten their control, through blockchain technology, AI, total surveillance.

HERE’s Cory taking us through all that she’s elucidated through her must-read investigative series, which you can find at http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org. The very telling silences that Cory notes throughout the “climate movement” also tell us something about BLM/Antifa, who say nothing about class, or the economy, or the war machine, which just keeps grinding on throughout this crisis, further poisoning the planet, and bombing peoples of color, and destabilizing their societies, while everybody here is shouting ‘Black lives matter!’

“MCM

”p.s. Cory has a very interesting take on Jeff Gibbs’s [documentary film] “Planet of the Humans,” and Michael Moore’s regressive use of it.”

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Another view deserving of a careful reading is THIS ONE by Chris Hedges, titled “The Treason of the Ruling Class: They have destroyed our capitalist democracy and replaced it with a Mafia state.”

Who is Hedges? Two bios are HERE and HERE.

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If you would like to remotely take in a church service for today, put together in advance by a team at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, click HERE or HERE. The four readings were written in their own languages by, I’m guessing, some privileged people of their times, thousands of years ago.

The quote up top from Matthew is from one of today’s readings. It reminded me of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).

The guest preacher read Matthew 10:24-39 before his sermon, which was about, among other things, nature. A retired Episcopal priest, he is apparently a product of white privilege, as are Miller (no blood relation to me), Morningstar, Hedges, and myself.

— Mark Channing Miller

More Notes

Yesterday’s entry on Juneteenth was limited to the views of two people whose words online only went so far. One of them concentrated on inner change, largely slighting what can be done when humans acting together can effect broad, positive structural change. The other focused on massive violence and cruel acts carried out by celebrated historical figures and on the blindness and hypocrisies about it.

On the other hand, yesterday’s and today’s issues of the the Berkshire Eagle, contain articles about the future. For instance:

Berkshire youths’ march will focus on racial equality” is the Friday page 1 headline over an article in which one of the organizers talks about suppressing his own feelings about racist incidents he experienced as a high schooler. “Change is occurring right now,” he said. “People are seeing that things have to change. Racist police brutality is only one item on the agenda. The march, organized by three males ages 26, 20, and 16, takes place this Sunday (which is also Fathers Day). It’s roughly a mile and a half long and includes a roster of speakers at the end.

*Move afoot in Mass. to make Juneteenth a state holiday,” reads the headline over a detailed story by a local reporter.

* “Amid protests for racial justice, Juneteenth gets new renown” is the headline over THIS national Associated Press story in today’s Eagle.

* Less obvious as a story concerning racial decisions ahead for Pittsfield public schools is the top page 1 article today, headed “A split in learning eyed in the fall.” The schools superintendent said a likely scenario with caronavirus in mind is that some students are in schools and others stay at home and learn remotely through computers and the Internet. How students who are already disadvantaged would be affected was not part of the article.