...and he has now spoken.
Branfman was working as an educational advisor for the U.S. government in Laos, when in September 1969 thousands of refugees fled into the Laotian capital of Vientiane. Working as a translator for international media, he began to interpret thousands of villagers' stories, telling of planes dropping bombs.
Told by U.S. officials in Laos that Americans had nothing to do with the bombs, Branfman became consumed with the desire to understand what was happening. Gathering details, he journeyed to Washington and spoke at a special session of the U.S. Senate Committee on Refugees, exposing the U.S. government's covert activities.
If that's not enough to establish credibility, then keep in mind that he was a policy advisor to Thom Hayden, Jerry Brown, and Gary Hart, and would have been the President's Economic Advisor if Hart had won in 1988. Keep in mind his story of being with Noam Chomsky as he cried, twice, across 40 years. Keep in mind that Noam Chomsky, in turn, described him as the counterpart to Jeremy Scahill from the 60s.
Mr. Branfman is embarking on a 4 part series regarding the Executive Branch of the United States, and launches with this page.
Many have expressed surprise that under President Obama - a former Constitutional Law Senior Lecturer who promised transparency, protection forwhisteblowers and respect for international law when running for office - U.S. Executive Branch agencies have:
- Built up a fleet of 7,000 drones, operating from a growing number of secret bases around the world, as they train more drone than conventional pilots; waged automated war in an ever-expanding number of nations, lawlessly murdering thousands of human beings without even knowing their names, while greatly strengthening America's foes (see chart below), destabilizing allied governments and, in the case of Pakistan, greatly increasing the risk of nuclear materials falling into anti-American hands;
- Created the top-secret Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) consisting of 60,000 persons operating in 75 nations, the first unit of American assassins in U.S. history, who have illegally murdered manythousands more people and conducted night raids recalling World War II Gestapo movies which, according to Afghan President Karzai, have helped strengthen the Taliban and destabilize his government;
- Prosecuted more whistleblowers and journalists than even Messrs. Cheney and Bush;
- Collected records of millions of phone calls of Americans citizens fromVerizon, Sprint, ATT and other phone carriers, and spied on millions more Americans' search histories, email content, file transfers and live chats while on the Internet;
- Authorized the use of drones in the United States, which the Federal Aviation Administration estimates could lead to 30,000 drones in U.S. skies by 2020, leading privacy advocates to fear their massive use by police departments to spy on Americans;
- Claimed the President’s right to kill or imprison without trial any American citizen;
- Increased paramilitary training and equipment, and created secret police spying operations in thousands of states and cities around the nation (see chapter 7, “Report Suspicious Activity”, Top Secret America, by Dana Priest and William Arkin);
- Created “huge biometric databases – with fingerprints and iris scans – of nearly 100 million people” ( Top Secret America , p. 53);
- As Priest and Arkin have also revealed, the Executive Branch has created “a jaw-dropping 1,074 federal government organizations, and nearly two thousand private companies involved with programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence in at least 17,000 locations across the United States – all top secret. The biggest growth had come within the many agencies and large corporations that had existed before the attacks and had since inflated to historic proportions.” This has amounted to "a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible only to a carefully vetted cadre, and its entirety, as Pentagon intelligence chief James Clapper admitted, visible only to God." (pp. 52, 86).
Under Mr. Obama, America is still far from being a classic police-state of course. But no President has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police-state. This infrastructure will clearly pose a serious danger to democratic ideals should there be more 9/11s, and/or increased domestic unrest due to economic decline and growing inequality, and/or massive global disruption due to climate change, and/or a President with even less scruples than Mr. Obama.
This series stands out most prominently for how it chooses to address the failures of the current presidential administration - from a structural rather than personal standpoint. As Branfman says, the Executive Branch that Obama "nominally heads" is
"the most powerful institution in the history of the world, one that has killed, wounded or made homeless well over 20 million human beings, mostly civilians, since 1962 - far more than any other government in the world."
Whether one believes Obama's heart is filled with anguish, good intentions, malice, elitism, or some combination is irrelevant in this context. The president has far less control over the rest of the institution than many from his most devoted admirers to his most outspoken detractors recognize. Branfman notes that the foreign policy of the executive branch has remained remarkably stable from the Cold War forward, despite the broadly varying approaches that have been attributed to each of the different administrations. Thus, when discussing the "Evil", "Lawlessness", and "Authoritarianism" of the Obama administration, the quality of Obama's character is an unnecessary and unknowable distraction.
The first entry consists of 6 pages, generally focused upon the grossly immoral, self-perpetuating war on terror, followed by 7 pages of quotes from across the spectrum further supporting the central thrust. I will continue adding links to the remaining installments as they are presented.
Please share the original articles. Get as many eyes as possible onto this article. Develop tactics for getting past the particular alliances and dyed-in alleigances that keep so many from hearing these ugly truths. If you can break through to one more person because of this piece, it will be worth your effort.
Part 2: June 26, 2013: World's Most Evil and Lawless Institution? The Executive Branch of the U.S. Government