Tom Engelhardt

They Hang Elephants, Don’t They?

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on August 2, 2013

Hanging Elephant 1 Unknown photographer, ‘Hanging of circus elephant ‘Mary’ in 1916. The elephant was strangled with a railway crane after she trampled a handler prior to a show in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Hanging Elephant 1
Unknown photographer, ‘Hanging of circus elephant ‘Mary’ in 1916. The elephant was strangled with a railway crane after she trampled a handler prior to a show in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

America is a world leader in innovation and technology. Our big idea is to develop solutions where problems do not exist … then contrive problems specifically to justify expanding the use of the solution. A good example is the automobile; humans have had little difficulty getting around the surface of Planet Earth before the auto arrived, we are all born with feet. Afterward it was decided that every component of human existence should be spaced fifteen miles away from all the other components so that use of a car is mandatory.

Likewise, the railroad crane sits idly waiting for the need to arise … to lift something heavy: solution (crane), meet problem (elephants).

 

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses (of elephants) yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost (elephants) to me,
I lift my lamp (elephant) beside the golden door!”

 

Apologies to Emma Lazarus … who could not have possibly imagined in her most fevered dreams the level of balloon-headed idiocy … to which the United States of America has descended at the beginning of the new millenium. The golden door has been re-engineered into a solution searching desperately for problems. It has become a portal through which agencies and individuals smash others as they please for any reason, without any consequences: the revolving golden trap door. It excuses itself for any collateral damage, it is the solution, the problems are ‘threats’ that must be continually created so that the door can continue to justify its existence.

Along with the door is the absence or decline of strategy: the process is sanctified, the end or purpose the process is meant to address … vanishes.

Consider Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr; also known as Abu Omar: Nasr gained his fifteen milliseconds of fame for being kidnapped in Italy in 2003 by a group of CIA and Italian operatives, afterward hustled off unceremoniously — or rendered — through the golden door to Egypt where he was tortured by Hosni Mubarak’s intelligence service.
“CIA Kidnaps Its Own Informer in Broad Daylight in Italy, Damaging Italian Al-Qaeda Investigation”
The snatch from the middle of a crowded Milan boulevard created an uproar in Italy which understandably felt its sovereignty had been abused. Nasr’s detention then release from confinement triggered an Italian investigation which led to the conviction in Italian courts of 23 Americans plus 5 Italians. While none of the operatives spent any time in prison — the Americans had fled the country and were tried in absentia — the top-secret operation was entirely exposed. For the first time, Americans in their official capacity were convicted of crimes by an ally; the CIA as well as the Bush administration were publicly humiliated.

’24′ is an American television series produced for the Fox network and syndicated worldwide, starring Kiefer Sutherland as Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent Jack Bauer. Each 24-episode season covers 24 hours in the life of Bauer, using the real time method of narration. Premiering on November 6, 2001 …

 

November 6 + 19 + 31 = 56. Television bosses move fast when there is money to be made, in this case, just days after 9-11, Fox Television had America’s most potent response to International Islamic Terrorism ready to deploy! Life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde observed; CIA rendition offered the chance for career bureaucrats in cushy overseas billets to pretend to be Jack Bauers in real time using real humans as disposable props … and because the analog was on prime-time television, for the public to approve of it!

Nasr was just one of dozens detained then ejected through the infernal golden door into CIA-associated dungeons then abused. None of the information obtained with torture from the detainees amounted to anything. Little- or nothing was accomplished by way of the effort except to demonstrate in real time the US as a rogue country run by incompetent criminals. The rendition program was a public relations stunt -slash- solution to a non-existent problem.

The CIA could have left the entire Nasr matter to the Italians without getting involved. The US bosses post-9-11 felt that to be too ‘unmanly’; operatives flew into Italy ready pounce on the hapless Nasr. Presumably the spies checked into their hotels using the code-name ‘Jack Bauer’ …

 

The operation, it turns out, took much longer to complete than the CIA had planned, and as it dragged on, discipline on the eleven-member abduction team broke down. Two agents used their cell phones to call home. At least two others decided to use the trip for romantic encounters in rooms at some of Milan’s swankier hotels, like the Sheraton Diana Majestic and the Principe di Savoia, on the CIA’s dime. One team member, believed to be a freelance contractor, used his real name when checking in to hotels. Worst of all, Langley had given the team walkie-talkies to use for operational communications -— a $20 solution that would have kept the operation airtight. (The former senior CIA official told me the agents felt the two-way radios “made them look too much like spies” when they were on Via Guerzoni and scrapped them for cell phones.)“This was amateur hour with a bunch of Keystone Kops,” said former CIA officer Milt Bearden.

 

Of course they didn’t want to ‘look like spies’ … who would?

The CIA station chief in Rome was an ex-cop with a Honduran background named Robert Seldon Lady. He was a year from retirement at the time of the kidnapping, looking forward to the good life in the north of the country. He had just bought a multi-million dollar villa outside of Turin with his wife, from where he could employ himself as a (highly-paid) security consultant. As it turned out, circumstances compelled Lady to leave the country in a hurry and his property behind. Ironically, Lady’s villa was eventually confiscated by the Italians, then sold to provide a partial restitution payment to Nasr for damages suffered at the CIA’s hands!

 

“Bob should have been a minor figure in this operation,” said a former senior CIA official. “Unfortunately, that is not how things played out. It’s sad, really. He should not have put anything work-related on his home computer. That was just stupid.”

 

The question never asked is how a mid-level civil service employee with a modest salary could possibly afford a multi-million dollar villa in Turin in the first place. Lady recently materialized on the Panamanian-Costa Rican border waiting to be hustled away by Americans before he could be turned over to the Italians on an Interpol warrant.

It is not just intelligence services that are solutions looking for problems …

From the Open Society Foundation website:

 

After being extraordinarily rendered by the United States to Egypt in 2002, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under threat of torture at the hands of Egyptian officials, fabricated information relating to Iraq’s provision of chemical and biological weapons training to Al Qaeda. In 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell relied on this fabricated information in his speech to the United Nations that made the case for war against Iraq.

“They were careless people, Hotel Two-Six and Crazyhorse One-Eight — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”– F. Scott Fitzgerald ‘The Not-So-Great Gatsby’

 

‘Rambo 4′, starring Sylvester Stallone was produced by Millennium Films, Nu Image Films for Equity Pictures and Medienfonds GmbH. Released in 2008, the film cost $50 million to make with a box office of $113,244,290. It has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 37%. The video released by Wikileaks cost two trillion US dollars and 100,000+ lives to make and is due to send Bradley Manning to the stockade for 20 years- to life. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is unknown, however the result was the revelation of the military — by the military itself — as a collection of anxious, undisciplined solutions hunting for problems; Rambos desperate to find someone or anyone to kill, just to be able to do so.

The Army’s helicopter footage exposed the rottenness at the heart of American Exceptionalism, exposed the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan as PR campaigns gone badly awry just like Extraordinary Rendition. Online spying and interception of the world’s cellphone conversations are more of the same; expensive, ultimately useless endeavors looking for ways to justify themselves: our disciplined adversaries use the $20 walkie-talkies and avoid the Internet.

It is unsurprising the establishment is frantic to punish Manning and the others: the USA sells itself to the world as omnipotent; history’s last superpower. The revealed inner workings of the establishment and failed outcomes offer a completely different narrative: a country that is disconnected from reality, living in the past; a country whose leadership relies on bullying and abuse of others, cannibalizing goodwill earned in blood by the efforts of previous generations. It is a country that has no idea what it is about or what it is doing. In a flash of lightning perceptions are permanently altered: the empire’s garments are tatters; the elephants are out of the bag never to be retrieved.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the spy program; the failures are obvious, not much effort should be needed …

 

Senate Panel Presses N.S.A. on Phone LogsAt a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the chairman, Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, accused Obama administration officials of overstating the success of the domestic call log program. He said he had been shown a classified list of “terrorist events” detected through surveillance, and it did not show that “dozens or even several terrorist plots” had been thwarted by the domestic program.

 

Nobody asks the security and military bosses who is getting rich by way of these programs, nobody follows the money. To ask is un-American; the country exists so that a handful of diabolical tycoons can become richer than they already are. There is no doubt that some of the hundreds of billions- and trillions of dollars directed toward ‘security’ are being diverted into hungry pockets. Left up to the establishment, nobody will ever find out.
Crazed Terrorists 1

Identify the terrorist® if you can; he is the one with the cold, pitiless stare. The marketing industry labors without pause to meet expectations in the public mind of what a terrorist is supposed to look, dress and act like as they do with economists and other public figures.

The wars, renditions and spying taken together are distractions. Instead of al Qaeda, the danger to America has more to do with its own success; cannibalized resources and the country’s monstrous debts. The cost in lives is paid not on the battlefield but on our nation’s highways to the count of thirty thousands and more casually written off every single year as the price for doing the auto industry’s dirty business.
Detroit-USA Debt 1
Chart by Heritage Foundation, (click on for big). Using public relations, the establishment of central banks and state treasuries manipulates the finance markets at will; within the American market state there is the belief that everything outside of finance can be manipulated the exact same way.

The establishment doubles-down with more distracting PR: instantly there are new ‘threats’ exposed by now-discredited spying programs. Soon to come is the charade of color-coded alerts, more groping and humiliation at the airports, more warrantless searches and seizures, more SWAT team raids as well as more declarations alternating between fear and vengeance. The bosses have fully invested the country in the notion that success in national endeavors comes from fooling yourself: there is ‘fracking’ and the “100 years supply” and ‘Energy Revolution’ and ‘Saudi America’ … we content ourselves with the thin gruel of ‘Mission Accomplished’ and ‘they will welcome us as liberators’. We live vicariously through the media, we abandon our own lives to interested others … plutocrats who do not care if they destroy everything.

We are caught out in a frenzy of villas and luxury cars, jet vacations and money; we know instinctively without any intelligence agency having to tell us that all of these things are vanishing like mirages before our eyes. The grip these things have on us tightens and we lash out in futility …

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further … And one fine morning –So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

https://image.freepik.com/free-icon/musical-notes-symbols_318-29778.jpg

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