Category Archives: Books

Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

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Book: “Kill Anything That Moves”: New Book Exposes Hidden Crimes of the War

By Nick Turse

nickturse.com | Jan 30, 2013

9780805086911_custom-d7bde86a53a684d5facba08cf4d2cf39c664ad32-s6-c10Based on classified documents and first-person interviews, a startling history of the American war on Vietnamese civilians

Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by “a few bad apples.” But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to “kill anything that moves.”

Drawing on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time how official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. In shocking detail, he lays out the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every major American combat unit all but inevitable. Kill Anything That Moves takes us from archives filled with Washington’s long-suppressed war crime investigations to the rural Vietnamese hamlets that bore the brunt of the war; from boot camps where young American soldiers learned to hate all Vietnamese to bloodthirsty campaigns like Operation Speedy Express, in which a general obsessed with body counts led soldiers to commit what one participant called “a My Lai a month.”

Thousands of Vietnam books later, Kill Anything That Moves, devastating and definitive, finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts Americans to this day.

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“Kill Anything That Moves”: New Book Exposes Hidden Crimes of the War

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Aleister Crowley: Torquay’s Warlock and James Bond’s arch-enemy

TORQUAY resident Aleister Crowley (1875 –1947) was a mystic and magician, and the founder of the religious philosophy of Thelema.

Local historian Dr Kevin Dixon takes a look at the truth and the myth about this extraordinary character.

This is SouthDevon | Jun 26, 2012

Also known as Frater Perdurabo and the Great Beast, Crowley is known today for his mostly self-published magical writings and is recognised as one of the most influential occultists of all time.

Seeing himself “in revolt against the moral and religious values” of his time, Crowley proclaimed that he was a bisexual drug ‘fiend’. He took the motto ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’. However, this dedication to excess left a series of deeply damaged women and men its wake.

As a consequence, he gained widespread notoriety during his lifetime, and was denounced in the Edwardian popular press as “the wickedest man in the world.”

Crowley has remained an influential figure, and a BBC poll in 2002 described him as being the seventy-third greatest Briton of all time.

References to him can be found in the works of numerous writers and filmmakers. His reputation particularly appeals to musicians. Jim Morrison and Ozzy Osbourne have written songs about Crowley. Led Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page took his interest in the occult to the extent of buying Crowley’s Scottish mansion, Boleskine House, and he owned a large collection of Crowley memorabilia.

Crowley is in the back row on the famous cover of the Beatles’ 1967 album, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The inclusion of the world’s most notorious magician led some American Christian evangelicals to condemn the Beatles as Satanists.

Aleister Crowley occult career began in Torquay.

In 1891, he lost his virginity at the age of 15 to a young actress in the town. He later wrote:

“The nightmare world of Christianity vanished at the dawn. I fell in with a girl of the theatre in the first 10 days at Torquay, and at that touch of human love the detestable mysteries of sex were transformed into joy and beauty. The obsession of sin fell from my shoulders into the sea of oblivion. I had been almost overwhelmed by the appalling responsibility of ensuring my own damnation and helping others to escape from Jesus. I found that the world was, after all, full of delightful damned souls.”

In 1917 Crowley referred to this encounter in a short novel ‘Not the Life of Sir Roger Bloxham’:

“’Twas at Torquay in Devon, land of stream and cream…, merry maids and proper men, tall fellows and bold… and of cider stronger and sweeter than your Norman can make for all his cunning; and this girl was a play-actress, rosy as the apples, and white as the cream, and soft as the air, and high-spirited as the folk, of that enchanted dukedom…”

Yet, at the time, when his horrified mother learned of his loss of innocence she condemned her teenage son as the ‘Beast’. This was the title Crowley was to adopt as he went on to provoke and outrage Christian society.

Later in his life, he returned to Torquay, staying first at the Grand and then in a house in Barton. Hopefully, by this time, he had given up trying to raise demons.

This is where Crowley’s story gets even stranger.

While he was living in Torquay during the War, Crowley was reputedly visited by British Intelligence. They wanted his advice on how to deal with Hitler’s Deputy Rudolf Hess.

On the eve of war with the Soviet Union, Hess had flown solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with Britain, but instead was arrested.

British Intelligence knew that Hess was interested in the occult and during the Nazi’s initial interrogation, they tracked Crowley down to his home in Great Hill Road in order to ask his advice.

The elderly man who called himself ‘the Great Beast 666’ was living alone and writing patriotic poetry to encourage the war effort.

Crowley had written to the director of Naval Intelligence, Ian Fleming, offering his help:

“Sir: If it is true that Herr Hess is much influenced by astrology and Magick, my services might be of use to the Department in case he should not be willing to do what you wish.”

Crowley’s offer of joining the interrogation team wasn’t taken up. Yet, he did also suggest that the RAF should drop ‘occult literature’, written by himself, on the Germans as a way of confusing and demoralising the enemy.

Le Chiffre played by Orson Welles

In 1952, the same Ian Fleming was writing his first novel entitled ‘Casino Royale’. He wanted an arch-villain to rival his new hero, James Bond. The ‘wickedest man in the world’ was an ideal embodiment of intelligent evil. Hence, Aleister Crowley became the model for the Le Chiffre character.

As well as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, a later Bond super-villain was supposedly inspired by Crowley.

This was Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the sixth Bond movie ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969), played by Telly Savalas.

It’s suggested that Crowley’s demand that he should be addressed by an aristocratic title he had invented (‘Sir Crowley’), was the inspiration for one of the major plot points in OHMSS. This was when Blofeld threatens to cause mass destruction if his coat of arms isn’t recognised.

Crowley died in Hastings in 1947 at the age of 72. The cause of death was given as a respiratory infection. He had become addicted to heroin after being prescribed morphine for his asthma and bronchitis many years earlier.

Among some occultists, the name Aleister Crowley can still evoke reverence. Variants of his Magical Order and his Magick are still practiced throughout the world. Others just see him as a self-publicist, an exploiter of vulnerable men and women and a fraud.

Will Your Future Be Full of Robot Assassins and Spy Aircraft?

With Its “Roadmap” in Tatters, The Pentagon Detours to Terminator Planet

A Drone-Eat-Drone World

At the end of World War II, General Henry “Hap” Arnold of the U.S. Army Air Forces praised American pilots for their wartime performance, but suggested their days might be numbered.  “The next war may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all,” he explained.  The future of combat aviation, he announced, would be “different from anything the world has ever seen.”

alternet.org | Jun 2, 2012

By Nick Turse

Today’s armed drones are actually the weak sisters of the weapons world.  Even the Reaper is slow, clumsy, unarmored, generally unable to perceive threats around it, and — writes defense expert Winslow Wheeler — “fundamentally incapable of defending itself.”  While Reapers have been outfitted with missiles for theoretical air-to-air combat capabilities, those armaments would be functionally useless in a real-world dogfight.

Similarly, in a 2011 report, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board admitted that modern air defense systems “would quickly decimate the current Predator/Reaper fleet and be a serious threat against the high-flying Global Hawk.”  Unlike that MQ-1000 of 2030, today’s top drone would be a sitting duck if any reasonably armed enemy wanted to take it on.  In this sense, as in many others, it compares unfavorably to current manned combat aircraft.

The Navy’s even newer MQ-8B Fire Scout, a much-hyped drone helicopter that has been tested as a weapons platform, has also gone bust.  Not only was one shot down in Libya last year, but repeated crashes have caused the Navy to ground the robo-copter “for the indefinite future.”

Even the highly classified RQ-170 Sentinel couldn’t stay airborne over Iran during a secret mission that suddenly became very public last year.  Whether or not an Iranian attack brought down the drone, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board report makes it clear that there are numerous methods by which remotely piloted aircraft can potentially be thwarted or downed, from the use of lasers and dazzlers to blind or damage sensors to simple jammers to disrupt global positioning systems, not to mention a wide range of cyber-attacks, the jamming of commercial satellite communications, and the spoofing or hijacking of drone data links.

Smaller tactical unmanned aircraft may be even more susceptible to low-tech attacks, not to mention constrained in their abilities and cumbersome to use.  Sergeant Christopher Harris, an Army drone pilot and infantryman, described the limitations of the larger of the two hand-launched drones he’s operated in Afghanistan this way: the 13-pound Puma was best used from an observation post with some elevation; it only had a 12-mile range and, though theoretically possible to take on patrol, was “a beast to carry around” once the weight of extra batteries and equipment was factored in.

Terminators of Tomorrow?

As for the future, the Air Force’s 2011-2036 Roadmap has already hit a major detour.  In 2010, Air Force magazine breathlessly announced, “Early in the next decade, the Air Force will deploy a new, stealthy RPA — currently called the MQ-X — capable of surviving in heavily defended airspace and performing a wide variety of ISR [intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance] and strike missions.”

Indeed, the 2011 Roadmap lists the MQ-X as the future of Air Force drones.  In February 2012 however, Lieutenant General Larry James told an Aviation Week-sponsored conference: “At this point… we don’t plan, in the near term, to invest in any sort of MQ-X like program.”  Instead, James said, the Air Force will be content simply to upgrade the Reaper fleet and watch the Navy’s development of its Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike or UCLASS drone to see if it soars or, like so many RPAs, crashes and burns.

The Holy Grail of drone ops is the ability of an aircraft to linger over suspected target areas for long durations.  But ultra-long-term loitering operations still remain in the realm of fantasy.  Admittedly, the Pentagon’s blue skies research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is pursuing an ambitious drone project to provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and “communication missions over an area of interest” for five or more years at a time.  The project, dubbed “Vulture,” is meant to provide satellite-like capabilities “in an aircraft package.”

Right now, it sounds downright unlikely.

While the Air Force has had a hush-hush unmanned space plane orbiting the Earth for more than a year, much like a standard satellite, the longest a U.S. military drone has reportedly stayed aloft within the planet’s atmosphere is a little more than336 hours.  Plans for ultra-long duration flights took a major hit last year, according to scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and defense giant Northrop Grumman.

In an effort to “to increase UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] sortie duration from days to months while increasing available electrical power at least two-fold,” according to a 2011 report made public by the Federation of American Scientists’Secrecy News, the Sandia and Northrop Grumman researchers identified a technology that “would have provided system performance unparalleled by other existing technologies.”  In a year in which the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster turned a swath of Japan into an irradiated no-go zone, the use of that mystery technology, never named in the report but assumed to be nuclear power, was deemed untenable due to “current political conditions.”

With the Pentagon now lobbying the Federal Aviation Administration to open U.S. airspace to its robotic aircraft and ever more articles emerging about dronecrashes, don’t bet on nuclear-powered, long-loitering drones appearing anytime soon, nor on many of the other major promised innovations in Drone World to come online in the near term either.

From Dystopian Fiction to Dystopian Reality

Until recently, drones looked like a can’t-miss technology primed for big budgetincreases and revolutionary advances, but all that’s changing fast.  “Realistic expectations are for zero growth in the unmanned systems funding,” Weatherington explained by email.  “Most increases will be in technical innovations improving application of delivered systems on the battlefield, and driving down the cost of ownership.”

Major Jeffrey Poquette of the Army’s Small Unmanned Air Systems Product Office talked about just such an effort.  By the late summer, he said, the Army planned to introduce more sophisticated sensors, including the ability to track targets more easily, in its four-pound Raven surveillance drones.  Put less politely, what this means is no roll-outs of sophisticated new drone systems or revolutionary new drone technology: the Army will simply upgrade a glorified model airplane that first took flight more than a decade ago.

Sci-fi it isn’t, but that doesn’t mean that nothing will change in the world of drone warfare.

The Terminator films weren’t exactly original in predicting a future of unmanned planes dominating the world’s skies.  At the end of World War II, General Henry “Hap” Arnold of the U.S. Army Air Forces praised American pilots for their wartime performance, but suggested their days might be numbered.  “The next war may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all,” he explained.  The future of combat aviation, he announced, would be “different from anything the world has ever seen.”

The most salient and accurate of Arnold’s predictions was not, however, his forecast about drone warfare.  Pilotless planes had taken flight years before the Wright Brothers launched their manned airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903, and drones would not become a signature piece of American weaponry until the 2000s.  Instead, Arnold’s faith in a “next war” — a clear departure from thesentiments of so many Americans after World War I — proved accurate again and again.  Over the following decades, American aircraft would strike in North Korea, South Korea, Indonesia, Guatemala, Cuba, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq (again), Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen (again), Libya (again), and the Philippines.  New technologies came and went, air strikes were the constant.

In Vietnam, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and the Philippines, the U.S. deployed pilotless planes as per Arnold’s other prediction.  From Afghanistan onward, all of the countries that have experienced American air power have also experienced lethal drone attacks — just how many is unknown because figures on drone strikes are kept secret “for security reasons,” the Air Force’s Spires recently told TomDispatch.  What we do know is that drone attacks have increased radically over the years.  “More” has been the name of the game.

Still, barely a decade after our drone wars began, dreams of Terminator-esque efficiency and technological perfection are all but dead, even if the drone itself is increasingly embedded in our world.  Fantasies of autonomous drones and submarines fighting robot wars off the coast of Africa are already fading for any near-term future.  But drone warfare is here to stay.  Count on drones to be an essential part of the American way of war for a long time to come.

Air Force contracting documents suggest that the estimated five Reaper sorties flown each day in 2012 will jump to 66 per day by 2016.  What that undoubtedly means is more countries with drones flying over them, more drone bases, more crashes, more mistakes.  What we’re unlikely to see is armed drones scoring decisive military victories, offering solutions to complex foreign-policy problems, or even providing an answer to the issue of terrorism, despite the hopes of policymakers and the military brass.

Keep in mind as well that those global skies are going to fill with the hunter-killer drones of other nations in what could soon enough become a drone-eat-drone world.  With that still largely in the future, however, the Pentagon continues to glow with enthusiasm over the advantages drones offer the U.S.

Regarding the importance of military robots, for instance, the Pentagon’s Dyke Weatherington explained, “Combatant commanders and warfighters place value in the inherent features of unmanned systems — especially their persistence, versatility, and reduced risk to human life.”

On that last point, of course, Weatherington is only thinking about American military personnel and American lives.  Tomorrow’s drone warfare will likely mean “more” in one other area: more dead civilians.  We’ve left behind the fiction of Hollywood for a less high-tech but distinctly dystopian reality.  It isn’t quite the movies and it isn’t what the Pentagon mapped out, but it indisputably provides a clear path to a grim and grimy Terminator Planet.

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Mind Wars: How the military wants to control our brains

The routine revelations of military atrocities in Afghanistan might lead one to question whether ethicists can be any different from priests blessing the troops before they go into battle.

Mind Wars by Jonathan D Moreno – review

guardian.co.uk | Jun 1, 2012

by Steven Rose

Science long ago struck its Faustian bargain with the military. From Archimedes and Leonardo to the physicists of the Manhattan project, Vietnam’s electronic battlefield and the computer-controlled drones over Afghanistan, the lineage is well known. Now it is the turn of the neurosciences to be recruited into the asymmetric wars of the 21st century.

The new brain sciences offer methods to enhance the fighting capabilities of one’s own troops (war-fighters, in today’s military jargon) and to degrade those of the enemy. The technologies range from the biochemical to the electro-magnetic. They promise novel methods of surveillance and intelligence gathering – not just in traditional war zones abroad but also in controlling an unruly citizenry at home. A line once drawn between the military and the police is being redrawn as wars abroad return in the form of urban terrorism and riot to haunt the heartlands of the old imperial powers.

Many of these developments are veiled in secrecy. A rare insight into their development came in October 2002, when a group of Chechen rebels invaded the Nord Ost theatre in Moscow, taking the 850 theatre-goers hostage. Two days later, in an abortive rescue attempt, Russian special forces pumped an opioid gas, fentanyl, into the theatre’s ventilation system before storming it. The gas, supposedly non-lethal, killed at least 129 of the hostages; all the Chechens were shot.

What is closed elsewhere, however, is far more open in the US, where the military is happy to reveal much about its thinking. A central player is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), which for decades has funded military research projects straddling the borderline between practicability and science fiction. Darpa’s activities have been followed for much of this period by Jonathan Moreno, bioethicist and historian, who has been in the privileged insider/outsider position that gives him both access and freedom to comment. His new book, Mind Wars, updates his earlier accounts of the military’s wars on the mind to bring us chilling news of Darpa’s latest projects. To these, he is an excellent and authoritative guide. However, he is cautious and less than surefooted about the politics, as when he describes Bertrand Russell as a socialist – a label that would have appalled and astonished the late earl in equal measure.

So what’s on offer? One priority is to enhance the efficiency of one’s own troops. US pilots flying bombing missions over Iraq and Afghanistan have already used Modafinil to keep them alert on long flights and Ritalin to enhance attention. Asked to suggest military priorities for brain research, the US National Research Council pressed for the development of improved cognitive enhancers to add to the existing drugs. Might it be possible to enhance intelligence by tapping directly into the brain? Smart soldiers for the age of smart weaponry? How about a helmet incorporating a hairnet of electrodes to read off the brain’s electrical activity? Or a brain-computer interface to “analyse intelligence information, improve motivation and accelerate learning”, as well as a warfighter’s ability to “detect and identify threats rapidly and at a distance”? Similar interfaces might enable soldiers brain-damaged or paralysed after a roadside bomb explosion to recover some function, coupling the brain’s electrical activity to the movement of a prosthetic limb. One Darpa project seeks to restore memory loss in brain-injured soldiers by bypassing the damaged brain regions via computer inputs. And for those traumatised by the horrors of war, the military is exploring “forgetting” drugs to erase painful memories. As is so often the case the spur of war advances medicine, and such brain prostheses and drugs are likely to become available for civilians too.

As for the enemy, although lethal chemicals are already banned under international conventions, the non- or, more accurately, the less-lethals, such as fentanyl, inhabit a grey area waiting to be exploited. During the 1960s the US military hit on a drug they claimed would disorientate and confuse an enemy. Codenamed BZ, it worked a bit like LSD, and a film was produced that showed troops exposed to the substance collapsing in laughter, throwing their rifles down and ignoring military orders. Unfortunately army chiefs seem to have been too cautious to employ it.

Today a whole new generation beckons, euphemistically named calmatives to the outside world (and to the insiders spoken of as “on the floor” or “off the rocker”). To avoid any suggestion that they contravene international conventions, the funding has come from the civil budget as the “calmatives” are claimed to be intended for crowd and riot control. International agreements only cover the use of chemicals in war, not for police use.

In an unusual burst of openness, the British Home Office announced in April that it was expanding its “non-lethal” armoury to include guns firing pellets that cause intense burning sensations – already routinely and sometimes lethally used by the Israeli military against Palestinian demonstrators as part of its “active denial strategy”.

Also under research are various forms of electromagnetic radiation. Could an enemy be disoriented by a microwave beam? Could thoughts and intentions be read at a distance? As Moreno comments, many US citizens already believe that their brains are being read or manipulated by the surveillance state – and judging by my email inbox, a fair number on this side of the Atlantic share the suspicion. For decades Darpa has been interested in microwave radiation devices that could disorient and pacify opponents, or, even better, read their intentions and modify their thoughts.

Communication between nerve cells in the brain is electrochemical, and where there is an electric current, there is a magnetic field at right angles to it. Interfere with the magnetic field and the brain signals are disrupted. At the current stage of the technology, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) requires the magnets to be placed directly around a person’s head and focused on specific brain regions. In clinical trials such stimulation has been used to treat depression, OCD and Parkinson’s disease. But could such devices read minds and predict intentions?

Moreno investigates the companies that claim to use brain imaging techniques to do so. “Brain fingerprinting” records the brain’s electrical activity to decide whether a person has “terrorist thoughts” or has visited “a terrorist training camp”; NolieMRI offers a sophisticated lie detection system. Most neuroscientists regard such prospectuses as snake oil, and Moreno shares this scepticism, even if Darpa doesn’t.

He ends his book with a plea for “a new role for neuroethics” which he hopes might be shared by military and the neurotechnology industry alike, and praises Darpa’s willingness to bring ethicists into its discussions. The routine revelations of military atrocities in Afghanistan might lead one to question whether ethicists can be any different from priests blessing the troops before they go into battle.

“The Emergency State” undermining American legal and moral foundations

Security is a rallying cry for patriotism, however much it undermines the country’s legal and moral foundations.

“The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at all Costs” by David Unger and “Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security” by Kip Hawley and Nathan Means

washingtonpost.com | May 25, 2012

By Karen J. Greenberg, Published

Last year a Newsweek article made public President Obama’s reading list. Its message was promising: A third of the books focused on former presidencies. Yet according to “The Emergency State,” David C. Unger’s ambitious and valuable overview of 20th-century presidents and national security, Obama has unfortunately picked up the bad habits of his predecessors. They have created what Unger calls emergency state government — policies by which America’s security interests are defined with an ever-increasing expansiveness. Over the past century, Unger argues, America’s presidents have incrementally institutionalized the emergency state and in so doing have weakened the country morally, constitutionally, financially and most of all in terms of security itself.

According to Unger, a longtime foreign affairs editorial writer for the New York Times, the rationale for the emergency state emerged in the early 1900s with Woodrow Wilson’s evangelical promise to make the world safe for democracy. But it took the personality and genius of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the godfather of the emergency state, to put into place its more unsavory elements. In the name of national security, FDR enhanced executive power, crafted foreign policy in secret and devious ways, authorized far-reaching and possibly illegal policies against Japanese Americans, and misled the public about his intentions and behind-the-scenes directives.

After FDR, both Republican and Democratic presidents set the pattern of the emergency state. Harry Truman “locked in [its] policies and politics” by waging an all-encompassing cold war rather than pursuing a more nuanced relationship with Soviet Russia, and overseeing the passage of the 1947 National Security Act, which created the architecture of emergency state government: the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council. Eisenhower authorized the CIA’s policy of toppling governments around the globe. And, in a move that Unger finds unforgiveable, John F. Kennedy made the executive unaccountable for its decisions by creating the position of national security adviser, a post subject to neither congressional confirmation nor oversight.

For Unger, all this undermines the Constitution and violates the intent of the country’s founders and 19th-century presidents to steer clear of foreign entanglements. By the time Lyndon Johnson entered the White House, all the elements of the emergency state were in place, and each successive president chose entanglements and evasion over transparency, legality and independence. Following “his political mentor and presidential model,” FDR, Johnson lied to the public about his intentions to escalate the American presence in Vietnam, bypassing Congress and relying on covert operations — and ultimately deciding not to seek reelection in 1968 as a result. Richard Nixon and, to a lesser extent, Gerald Ford aimed to strengthen the emergency state but, with Watergate and its aftermath, accomplished the opposite, “discredit[ing] three crucial pillars of the emergency state — the White House, the CIA and the FBI.” Then came Jimmy Carter, singular in eschewing the deceitful and destructive ways of the emergency state but politically naive and ultimately unwilling to give up presidential powers. He tried his best to pull the country out of the dark hole into which it had fallen but was too ineffectual to do so.

It was up to Ronald Reagan to find a way to restore the glory days. Under his command, the emergency state reasserted itself with renewed strength, along with the telltale signs of secrecy, deceit and disregard for the law. With Iran-contra, Reagan’s NSC bypassed Congress and the secretaries of state and defense and reclaimed the confrontational stance taken by Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy. Once the Soviet empire — America’s premier rationale for military expansion worldwide — crumbled, it was left to George H.W. Bush to face the challenges of a new kind of foreign policy: one that focused on a new enemy, the “rogue state.”

But no one seems to disappoint Unger as much as Bill Clinton, “the first American president born under the emergency state.” Armed with the leadership qualities of FDR, the global vision of Eisenhower and Nixon, and a Carter-like suspicion of the emergency state, Clinton nonetheless preferred “enlargement” to downsizing. He encouraged Americans who, “by 1993 . . . were politically addicted to the role of leader of the free world,” to intervene around the globe in places peripheral to U.S. interests, such as Africa, Haiti and Bosnia.

Unger’s disappointment overlooks the fact that, in his narrative, Clinton, while committed to expanding America’s global dominance, does not invoke the more nefarious mechanisms of the national security state, such as implementing unconstitutional measures or encasing foreign policy in a never-ending web of secrecy. To maintain his position that all recent presidents have furthered excesses in the name of national security, Unger holds Clinton accountable not for constitutional violations or corruption, but largely for damaging America’s economy by ignoring foreign-policy-related economic challenges, refusing to curtail the military budget and failing to protect the domestic economy, which essentially “hollowed out the remaining competitive strengths of American industry.”

Unger gives disappointingly brief treatment to the two most recent presidencies and, in so doing, unfairly conflates them. One might criticize Obama for failing to make good on his promise to close Guantanamo or to restore rights generally in the war on terror. But to link his tactics to those of the Bush administration when it comes to foreign policy decisions obfuscates rather than enlightens. To give the most glaring example, Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney, met repeatedly and secretly with intelligence officials to craft a deceitful story of WMDs in order to lead the country into war with Iraq. This seems a far cry from sanctions and diplomacy that the Obama administration is using in Iran. Here as elsewhere, one can only wonder whether Unger sluffs over distinctions that might make all the difference.

In contrast to Unger’s relentless pessimism, Kip Hawley and Nathan Means’s “Permanent Emergency” provides a more upbeat story by focusing on one piece of the national security apparatus. In memoir fashion, Hawley’s narrative traces the story of the the Transportation Security Administration, created in the immediate wake of Sept. 11, 2001, and charged with improving airport security. In matters of transportation, Hawley demonstrates, the trade-off is not security vs. American values and constitutional protections, but security vs. efficiency, effectiveness and public approval.

By 2004, TSA employees, routinely demoralized by passenger resistance, were overcome by “hopelessness.” Meanwhile, the public was fed up, tired of delays and seemingly indiscriminate searches. In 2005, Hawley inherited an agency whose workers were disgruntled and whose work was thankless.

Hawley’s solution was to professionalize the work by making intelligence a central part of the agency’s mission. After his promotion to administrator, the TSA was newly included in the Department of Homeland Security’s morning intelligence telephone call. Armed with insights into the updated plans of al-Qaeda, Hawley used this information in part to update the agency’s policies and practices.

Hawley’s defensive account of the importance of the TSA extols, among other things, the passions of patriotism as a useful counterterrorism tool. Throughout his narrative he brings to life details of incipient threats around the globe in an effort to justify his agency and to motivate its workers. He brings to the fore the way in which the emergency state that Unger describes trickles down to the average man: Security is a rallying cry for patriotism, however much it undermines the country’s legal and moral foundations.

Whether observed from the heights of the executive branch or the grittiness of the airport security line, the security agenda that defines 21st-century America continues to challenge the sense of safety and trust in its institutions that its citizens deserve.

Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well may have been co-written by Thomas Middleton


William Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well may have been co-written by Thomas Middleton

Daily Mail | Apr 25, 2012

Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well might have been co-authored with a fellow playwright, Oxford University academics have found.

Thomas Middleton, writer of The Changeling, was the most likely co-author of the comedy in the First Folio of 1623, according to analysis of the text, spelling, speech prefixes and narrative phrasing.

Professor Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith, both of Oxford University’s English faculty, said writers have their own distinctive literary fingerprints and anomalies within the play show ‘markers’ strongly linked to Middleton.

Dr Smith said: ‘We are not saying that Middleton and Shakespeare definitely worked together on All’s Well but Middleton’s involvement would certainly explain many of the comedy’s stylistic, textual and narrative quirks.

‘The narrative stage directions, especially ‘Parolles and Lafew stay behind, commenting on this wedding’, look as though it is the point at which one author handed over to another.’

Londoner Thomas Middleton lived between 1580 and 1627 and became a celebrated writer, remembered for works such as Women Beware Women.

An analysis of the textual composition of All’s Well supports Middleton’s involvement, with whom Shakespeare also collaborated on Timon Of Athens at the same time, the academics said.

‘The proportion of the play written in rhyme is much higher than usual for Jacobean Shakespeare: 19 per cent of the lines are in rhyme, which fits Middleton’s norm of 20 per cent,’ added Professor Maguire.

‘Shakespeare tends to use ‘Omnes’ as a speech prefix and ‘All’, preferred by Middleton, only occurs twice in the Folio: both times in All’s Well.’

The research suggests act 4, scene 3 was written by Middleton, Professor Maguire said.

‘This scene sees Parolles describing Bertram as ‘ruttish’, a word whose only other occurrence as an adjective is in Middleton’s The Phoenix,’ he said.

‘It also sees an unusual number of Middleton’s known spelling preferences.’

The word ‘ruttish’ means lustful – and its only other use at that time is in a work by Middleton.

More of his ‘modern’ grammar can be found in the text and its phrasing and spelling is closer to Middleton’s style than Shakespeare’s.

It is believed that if Middleton and Shakespeare did collaborate on All’s Well, it could provide an interesting insight into the way Shakespeare worked.

Dr Smith explained: ‘Where we know Shakespeare worked with other playwrights, it tended to be in a master-apprentice relationship, with Shakespeare as the apprentice in the early years and as the senior writer in his later years.

‘But if, as we suspect, All’s Well and Timon Of Athens were written in 1606-7 while Shakespeare was in the middle of his career and working with a dynamic, up-and-coming playwright like Middleton, the relationship seems not unlike an established musician working with the current big thing and is about more than just professional training.’

Research leader Professor Laurie Maguire said many plays of the time were written in partnership, but it was thought Shakespeare always penned pieces by himself.

He was thought to not want to share the glory with contempories due to his inconic status.

Prof Maguire said: ‘The picture that’s emerging is of much more collaboration. We need to think of it more as a film studio with teams of writers.

‘We are confident there is a second hand in the authorship of the play and that hand belongs to Thomas Middleton.’

Author: We live in “Ritual America” where the average citizen is an unconscious Masonic initiate

Images: Freemasonry Watch

huffingtonpost.com | Apr 10, 2012

by Adam Parfey (co-author of “Ritual America”)

Just about every single village, town and city in the United States has at least several buildings used as secret society lodges, hidden in plain sight: various forms of Freemasonry, Odd Fellows, Shriners, Woodmen of the World, Improved Order of the Red Men, Jesters, Druids, subordinate orders meant for women or children of these groups–Rebekah, Order of the Eastern Star, Job’s Daughters, DeMolay or one of six hundred different orders that ran strong in this country.

It might come as a surprise that the banal business and patriot groups, like the Lion’s, Optimists, Elks, Eagles, and the Rotary Club are also secret societies who are joined by initiates who swear secret oaths.

At the turn of the twentieth century, several well-regarded insider books on fraternal orders claimed that as many as one-third the population of the country belonged to among six hundred different secret orders. Now that’s a mother lode of secrecy.

A dozen major factories in the country made costumes and uniforms, strange lodge ephemera, banners, books, and strange hazing pranks for a huge and not-too-secret fraternal marketplace.

What’s the attraction of belonging to such groups?

It seems that a small percentage were attracted to learning esoteric wisdom. Others were drawn to having a place where they could meet with friends and drink away from the wife and kids. A surprising number of fraternal orders outside the Ku Klux Klan–which based its structure on Freemasonry–froze out the participation of other races and religious beliefs. A good number of secret orders provided life insurance and care for families at a time when social security, Medicare and life insurance did not exist. Some original secret orders have since dropped the rituals and esoteric pretense to morph into full-time insurance companies.

With the distractions of television, video games, the Internet, fast food, microwave meals and full-time employment for mothers of the family, membership in secret orders has dropped precipitously since the late ’60s. Bruce Webb, a friend from Waxahachie, Texas, runs an art gallery that nearly exclusively features purchases he made from newly defunct Lodges.

A member of the Scottish Rite temple bemoaned to me the dissolution of fraternal orders, and suggested that I read the book Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam to glean a better idea why the communitarian aspect of American culture has collapsed, and why lodge membership seems like a faint throwback to a weird and ancient era.

Today, Orders like the Scottish Rite Temple are trying to find ways to attract new members who don’t have enough interest or drive to spend months memorizing complex ideas to climb the 32 degrees of the Order’s hierarchy. Many Scottish Rite lodges today offer the 32 degree climb within a day or two… Less work equals more “raised” members.

In opposition to the decline today of secret society membership is the continued strength of fraternal membership among the police and military, or the so-called Brotherhood of the Gun.

Accompanying this article are patches of Masonic police brotherhoods. Coincidentally, the Middle East has been a fraternal obsession since the turn of the twentieth century. Masonic publishing companies have published novels and non-fiction books about Baghdad and The Temple of Solomon. An online Shriners magazine called The Scimitar discusses military lodge work in Baghdad. A New York Times article from 1912 discusses a “scheme” of Freemasons to purchase and rebuild The Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.

The co-author of Ritual America [Feral House, $29.95] and I believe that although membership of esoteric orders are declining by the day, the esoteric groundwork of modern America has already been established. Although traditional structures–with notable exceptions in police and military ranks–are in decline, other forums for fraternal fun have emerged, from sports bars (somewhat akin to early Masonic meetings in colonial taverns) to megachurches and their venues of entertainment. At the same time, modern America has been permeated by many of the gnostic concepts of the secret societies, making formal affiliations a bit moot. We might say that modern America has truly become Ritual America at a deeper level, and the average citizen is an unconscious initiate, a dweller in the long historical shadows of secret societies.