Progressive Calendar 08.05.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 03:33:57 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   08.05.08

1. Hiroshima        8.06 4:30pm
2. Bicycle ride     8.05 6pm
3. Hiroshima/film   8.05 6:30pm
4. 3CD Green Party  8.05 7pm
5. Natl Night Out   8.05

6. Hiroshima        8.06 7:30am/8:30am/7:30pm
7. Hiroshima/film   8.06 7pm Duluth MN
8. RNC              8.06 7pm Northfield MN

9. New Hope demo    8.07 4:30pm
10. Eagan vigil     8.07 4:30pm
11. Ntown vigil     8.07 5pm
12. HR/EEO director 8.07 6pm
13. Costs of war    8.07 7pm Duluth MN
14. Hiroshime/f     8.07 7pm

15. Dave Lindorff    - The Cheney Doctrine: shoot your friends first
16. Christian Wright - We're protesting at the Democratic convention
17. Jeff Cohen       - Americans move left, New York Times misses it
18. Chalmers Johnson - Military-Industrial Complex/later than you think

--------1 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Hiroshima 8.06 4:30pm

Tuesday, 8/5, Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration events at the Lyndale Park
Peace Garden, Roseway Rd just north of Lake Harriet, Mpls.  4:30 pm
Pathway to Peace procession, assembles at 40th St and Bryant Ave for walk
to Peace Garden; 5:30 recorder music by the Arden Consort, 6 pm Japanese
tea ceremony. or JoAnn at msphncc [at] or

--------2 of 18--------

From: Matty Lang <voidoid21 [at]>
Subject: Bicycle ride 8.05 6pm

Great event taking place in Summit-U:
8.05 6-8pm
Meet up at Nina's Coffee Cafe, 165 Western Ave N, St. Paul
Major Taylor Bicycling Club Ride.

Enjoy a ride around St. Paul with volunteers from the premier
African-American cycling club in Minnesota. Meet up at Nina's Coffee
CafeŠ, 165 Western Ave N at 6:00 p.m. Presented by St. Paul Smart Trips.

--------3 of 18--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Hiroshima/film 8.05 6:30pm

Documentary: "White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and

Tuesday, August 5, 6:30 p.m. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West 7th, St.
Paul. "In this extraordinary HBO Documentary Film, Academy Award-winning
filmmaker Steven Okazaki, presents shocking archival footage, stunning
photography and heartrending interviews--from both Japanese survivors of
the attacks and the Americans who believed their involvement would help
end a brutal conflict--for a deeply moving look at the painful legacy of
the first use of nuclear weapons in war." 85 minutes. Sponsored by: Pax
Conversational Salons.

--------4 of 18--------

From: alforgreens [at]
Subject: 3CD Green Party 8.05 7pm

3rd CD Green Party Local  8.05   7 PM
Tuesday, August 5:  3rd Congressional District Green Party Local meeting
Ridgedale Library Rm 172

Betsy Barnum a long time member of the Green Party and knowledgeable about
the development of corporate growth and effects on society will present
her talk on Corporate Personhood. Following her talk we will hold
elections for chairperson and treasurer for a one year term.

Any questions or need a ride please contact: Allan Hancock, Chair 3rd
Congressional District Green Party (763)-561-9758 or
3rdCDGreenParty [at]

--------5 of 18--------

From: Andrew Hine <amhine2 [at]>
Subject: National Night Out 8.05

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 is the 25th National Night Out (NNO).

--------6 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Hiroshima 8.06 7:30am/8:30am/7:30pm

Wednesday, 8/6, Hiroshima/Nagasaki events at the Lyndale Park peace
garden, Roseway Rd, just north of Lake Harriet, Mpls.
 7:30 am, Ceremony of the Cranes with moment of silence at the time the
bomb dropped, followed by hanging of origami cranes in the garden and
retelling of the legend of Sadako;
 8:30 am all day vigil in the peace garden;
 7:30 pm concert for peace at the Lake Harriet bandshell with Rabbi Sim
Glaser and the Social Action Figures and KAIROS International Dance
Theater. or JoAnn at msphncc [at] or

--------7 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Hiroshima/film 8.06 7pm Duluth MN

Wednesday, 8/6, 7 pm, film and discussion of "White Light/Black Rain"
about the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, First United Methodist
(Coppertop) Church, 230 E Skyline Pkwy, Duluth.  earthmannow [at] or

--------8 of 18--------

From: Bill McGrath <billmcgrath52 [at]>
Subject: RNC 8.06 7pm Northfield MN

Activists to Speak about Republican Convention

An information forum will be held for people interested in learning about
alternative citizen-sponsored activities to occur in the Twin Cities in
response to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Sponsored by Northfield People for Peace and Goodwill (PPG), the event at
7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6, in the Northfield Public Library will feature
short presentations by representatives from five Twin Cities

One of these groups is "Peace Island," which plans to provide educational
sessions at Concordia College in St. Paul. That speaker also will describe
a peace festival that will occur at Harriet Island in St. Paul.

Another group is "Veterans for Peace," which is organizing a legal march
to call attention to the war in Iraq.

A third group is the "Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War,"
which is organizing a legal march past the convention site.

A fourth group, "The RNC Welcoming Committee," is facilitating protests
during the week of the convention.

Finally, there will be a representative from the campaign of Republican
presidential candidate Ron Paul. Supporters of Paul plan to hold an
alternative convention, separate from the main Republican gathering.

More information is available from Bill at (507) 645-7660.

--------9 of 18--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: New Hope demo 8.07 4:30pm

NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:30 to 6 PM at the corner
of Winnetka and 42nd.  You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot
near McDonalds; we will be on all four corners.  Bring your own or use
our signs.

--------10 of 18--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 8.07 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------11 of 18--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 8.07 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------12 of 18--------

From: James Lockwood <lockwoodjg [at]>
Subject: HR/EEO director 8.07 6pm

The City of Saint Paul is searching for a Human Rights and Equal Economic
Opportunity director. People are invited to provide input on this crucial
new City role. These meetings are open to the public. All interested
parties are welcome to attend one or both meetings:

Thursday, August 7, 2008
6 to 7:30 p.m.
El Rio Vista Recreation Center
179 Robie Street E

Thursday, August 14, 2008
6 to 7:30 p.m.
Martin Luther King Recreation Center
270 Kent Street

Attendees will have an opportunity to submit written (in any language)
and/or oral comments. This input will assist the committee in conducting
the selection process and identifying top candidates for the position.

Those unable to attend may send comments (in any language) before August
22 to: Human Resources, 400 City Hall Annex, 25 W. 4th St., Saint Paul, MN
55102, HResEmployment [at]

For special needs accommodations, including language interpretation,
please call 651-266-6500 or 651-266-6483.

The need for a director of this new city office was outlined in a set of
recommendations in June stemming from an audit of the City's minority and
women contracting opportunities.

--------13 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Costs of war 8.07 7pm Duluth MN

Thursday, 8/7, 7 pm, a community conversation of The Costs of War,
Unitarian Universalist Building, 835 W College St, Duluth.
earthmannow [at] or

--------14 of 18--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Hiroshime/f 8.07 7pm

Film: "Hiroshima: Repentance and Renewal"

Thursday, August 7, 7:00 p.m. Parish Community of St. Joseph, 8701 36th
Avenue North (Corner of Boone), New Hope. "Hiroshima: Repentance and
Renewal" provides an overview of the scourge of nuclear weapons and
resistance to them from the 1940s until today. Combining archival
materials, quotes, and interviews with and footage of peace activists),
this short DVD uses the annual Hiroshima Day events at Los Alamos
laboratory in New Mexico to provide information about nuclear weapons and
action suggestions. Includes information on how Catholic social teaching
is related to nuclear weapons. 38 minutes. Sponsored by: Northwest
Neighbors for Peace. FFI: Call Mary, 763-577-5907.

--------15 of 18--------

Shoot Your Friends First
The Cheney Doctrine
August 4, 2008

Some people are expressing consternation and disbelief at a report by
journalist Seymour Hersh that Vice President Dick Cheney had discussed the
idea in his office of having some Navy Seals dress up as Iranians, and
then put them in faked Iranian speedboats to make a fake attack on US
ships in the Persian Gulf. The ensuing faked battle, with fake Iranians
shooting at US ships and US ships firing back, he suggested, could be used
to spark a war between the US and Iran.

I don't know why people would find it hard to believe that this vice
president would think up an idea like having Americans shoot at other
Americans in the interest of his own warped view of national security.

After all, this is a guy who shoots his own friends.

Besides, Cheney is in good company in this kind of thinking. We know from
reports of the meeting filed by British intelligence that President Bush
engaged in the same kind of thing when he was having trouble getting the
country and the rest of the civilized world behind his and Cheney's plan
to attack Iraq. It was disclosed years later that in early 2003, Bush
suggested to Prime Minister Tony Blair that the US could paint a U-2 spy
plane in UN colors and fly it over sensitive parts of Iraqi airspace, so
that Saddam Hussein would order it shot down. That, he argued, would anger
enough UN member states to win a security resolution to support a war on
Iraq, and failing that, would give the US an excuse to go in on its own.
Blair was reportedly horrified at this kind of kamikaze thinking - but not
horrified enough to expose the president as a nutcase.

So that's where we are today folks. A president and a vice president who
both think that it's a great idea to either send some of your own troops
under false flags into harm's way to get shot at so you can start a war,
or, even worse, to dress up some of your soldiers as the enemy you want to
go after, and have them open fire on your own guys so that you can claim
you were attacked, and then go to war.

Who gets tricked by all these mad schemes?

Not the Iranians, or in the earlier instance, the Iraqis. They know they
aren't attacking American forces. No. It's us, the American people, who
are being tricked. Cheney knows that most Americans think the idea of
attacking Iran - especially when we're five years into an interminable war
in Iraq and seven years into another war in Afghanistan, neither of which
has an end in sight - is really, really stupid. So they're trying to think
up a way to trick us into supporting doing such a stupid thing. And the
only thing they can come up with to overcome of reticence is making us
think that our guys are being attacked.

Now let me say that I've been a skeptic about people who claim the 9-11
attacks were an "inside job" - that the US government actually organized
those attacks - I know all the arguments and evidence, but it always
seemed to me that it was over the top to think that our leaders would try
to deliberately kill Americans in order to achieve some policy goal. And
yet, here we have Dick Cheney, the real brains (such as they are) behind
the Bush administration, discussing a plan, using American forces, to fake
an attack on other American forces.

It makes me wonder whether maybe Cheney deliberately shot his friend Harry
Whittington, either to flush those damned elusive quail he was after, or
so that he could generate public sympathy for the embattled President
Bush. And it even makes me wonder whether crazy Dick actually did have a
hand in bringing down those Twin Towers. He may be too stupid to pull
something like that off, but he has made it clear that it isn't moral
scruples that would prevent him from doing such a monstrous thing.

As ludicrous, pathetic and outrageous as this administration is, we need
to take this latest Hersh report seriously. It seems clear that Cheney has
a predilection for using fratricide to achieve his nefarious ends.

It's one thing when he does it with his own rifle, though. It's another
when he does it with the world's most mighty military machine.

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist. His latest book is .The
Case for Impeachment. (St. Martin.s Press, 2006 and now available in
paperback edition). His work is available at

--------16 of 18--------

And You Should Come Join Us!
We're Protesting at the Democratic Convention
August 4, 2008

In just a few weeks the Democratic National Convention will be held in
Denver, Colorado, where I live. For the past few months leading up to it I
have been organizing with Alliance for Real Democracy (ARD), one of the
local formations that is building towards a week of protests, teach-ins,
and concerts at this event.

It has occurred to me that the reasons for protesting the Democratic
Convention are not clear to everyone. As usual, much of the mainstream
press coverage has centered on speculations about "Seattle, '99- style"
confrontations, and this has served well the purpose of burying the actual
issues involved. Coverage on local TV, in the Denver Post and the Rocky
Mountain News have all vied for our attention with competing headlines,
ranging from the benign to the absurd.  But the general "theme" has been
established as "multi-million dollar security appropriations" versus "the
masked Spectre of anarchism."

But what are the fundamental issues addressed. Is the Democratic Party an
inept opposition that is out of touch with its constituency? Don't
citizens have a right to assemble publicly and air their grievances? Isn't
a country that welcomes debate and dissent, even when it is "civilly
disobedient", preferable to a National Security State where all dissent as
attacked for even existing as such?

The reason why most in ARD are protesting is to call this party to account
for its record, and to make sure that progressive, and specifically
antiwar politics, are heard loud and clear.

In every election, we are told to vote Democrat because the Republicans
are worse. It's as basic and ingrained as the colors of a stoplight.
Whether it's done with bright eyes and high hopes, or with gritted teeth
and muttered cynicism, almost the entire American left accepts the logic
to some extent: If we want to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, if we
want environmental justice, if we want to challenge the racist criminal
justice system, if we want to support immigrant rights, if we want
equality for the LGBT community, if we want to truly support a woman's
right to choose, and if we want to build real progressive social movements
in the United States, then, we're told, the first step is to get
Democratic politicians into office.

The problem today with this argument is that Democrats have had a majority
in congress since the 2006 elections. Since then, they have taken an
overwhelmingly antiwar, anti-Bush mandate, and used it to:

    * Pass "non-binding" resolutions expressing "disagreement" with the
Iraq war, while simultaneously voting for hundreds of billions more in
funding for it.

    * Declare that "Impeachment is off the table".

    * Join Republicans to gut civil liberties and allow the government to
spy on anyone, at any time, without a warrant.

On broader social justice issues the record is just as lukewarm.

    * Abortion remains unavailable in most counties in the United States
and access to it continues to be restricted.

    * Education today is more racially segregated and unequally funded
than it was decades ago, and college itself is increasingly unaffordable.

    * While productive industries crumble into recession and outsourcing,
there is a "bipartisan" consensus on the need to expand both prison
construction as well as military recruitment in schools.

Voting Democratic hasn't brought the rosy results that were promised. A
lot of hopes were raised as the returns came in two Novembers ago, and
what has (or more importantly, what hasn't) happened sense then has
significantly changed the political landscape.

There is no more post-2004 "awe" of mythical "red state" domination.
Farmers in Kansas aren't keeping the war going. Democratic votes in
Congress are. The period of "wait and see" has come puttering to its
inevitable end, and the leadership of the Democratic party has failed to
live up to the mandate of its voters.  Barack Obama, whose early
opposition to the war and community organizing background inspired many
liberals to support him in the primaries, is bunkered down in right-wing
positions on a wide range of issues (much to the concern of those to whom
he owes his victory).

Tragically, many social movements have tended to demobilize in election
years. For the antiwar movement, this was quite obvious in 2004, happened
again in 2006, and is going on this year as well. The political effects of
this have been to leave the movement, and most antiwar activists,
confused, disorganized, demoralized, and unsure of how to proceed.

This has occurred at a time when a confident, progressive voice in the
streets has been more important (and conspicuously absent!) than ever.

This is most clear today in the interaction between the war in Iraq and
the new war on Immigrants. Very few people were concerned about
immigration before 2006. But in that year, with the war going horribly,
many Republicans found out they could still win elections by appealing to
anti-immigrant phobias. The way this rhetoric has been articulated since
then would have been confined to far-right hate groups, and the extreme
fringe of the Republicans, at any time before the war on terror. But now,
with the acceptability of racial profiling, with a public already taught
to view brown and foreign people as enemies first, racist language has
found a new acceptability. As the economy slides into a war-related
recession millions of Americans are looking for someone to blame. The
Republican Party offers to the outraged citizenry a sacrificial lamb.
Meanwhile hundreds die crossing a desert border every year, and families
are destroyed as ICE raids workplaces. The legacy of the civil rights
movement seems to be forgotten.

Meanwhile in Iraq over the past year and a half exactly two major policy
developments have occurred. The first is that George Bush is marketing a
"surge" in troop levels as the solution to help stabilize things (under
firm US control). The second is that the Democratic Party has decided that
possibly sending some troops home within 18 months is really the same
thing as ending a war.

Among the many less reported developments are quite a few "inconvenient
truths". One is the invisible (to the American media) crisis of over 4
million Iraqi refugees - almost none of whom have been granted asylum by
the US. Another is the completely overwhelmed VA that can't respond to the
overload of physically and mentally wounded veterans. A third is the scam
of "reconstruction" that costs billions of dollars, generates
super-profits for American companies, yet does not actually reconstruct!

That's the short list.

Every country but ours has massive protests on the anniversary of the war,
as citizens around the world pressure their governments to stand up to
Bush's aggression. Yet we're supposed to rest?

If Democrats know they have our votes in their pocket without having to
even promise us anything, they're going to be spending their time making
promises to everyone else to get their votes too. The result is a
political establishment that lurches ever-rightward. The voices of the
left, minorities, women, immigrants, veterans, students, and pretty much
anyone else who isn't independently wealthy or politically connected, are
left out in the cold.

These are the costly lessons of recent experience. They teach us that
unless we organize our own communities, keep our movements politically
independent, and actively pressure ALL politicians - whatever their party
affiliation - no progressive agenda will be moving forward any time soon
in the United States.

The Alliance For Real Democracy is a coalition representing some of the
most insistent voices of protest from Colorado and the nation. Member
groups include Iraq Veterans Against the War, CODEPINK, United for Peace
and Justice, Veterans for Peace, the Colorado Green Party, Students for a
Democratic Society, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, the
International Socialist Organization, Progressive Democrats of America,
Jobs with Justice, and many others. ARD is a model. The fact that it can
even exist, bringing together such diverse constituencies, is a testament
to just how deep the credibility gap of the Dems has become.

Its s members not only tolerate - but welcome - debates on our attitude to
the Democratic Party and that's inspiring in and of itself.  I don't think
I've ever been in a meeting where members of PDA, the Greens, Anarchists,
and third-party Socialists are all working collaboratively on something,
and where there is (in spite of media and police-induced paranoia) such a
general level of goodwill among people of diverse ideological backgrounds.

We are a non-partisan organization. We're not in ARD because we like long,
endless meetings, or haggling with a wary city over permit details, or
because we enjoy insurmountable fundraising challenges. There's certainly
not a lot of NGO-political career advancement out there for people who
are really good at protesting the Democrats!

ARD exists for the simple fact that we're tired of the war and people we
know getting killed. We're tired of watching our nation descend descend
ever deeper into a national security state, where the government is above
the people, and no one knows if anything they write or say is private
anymore. We're tired of seeing racism and ignorance become acceptable.

I remember in 1999 after the Columbine shootings when the whole country
was up in arms about the need to get counseling to the weird kids before
they get so frustrated they try to resolve their problems with violence (I
myself was sent by my school for such counseling). Today military
recruiters are more often seen than college recruiters by a lot of kids.
At least one Colorado high school has an Apache Helicopter mounted proudly
on its front lawn* . I can't think of a more fitting irony, or tragic
confession, of just how upside down our country has become.

It's time to take it back. People's lives are more important than any
election, or any politician's career. We're going to speak truth to power
this August and judge the actions of all politicians by the same,
"non-partisan" standards.

We hope you'll join us. If you can not make it, but you agree with our
aims and would like to support ARD, we ask that you still help us to get
this message heard. We are planning numerous events, including large-scale
marches, innovative workshops, teach-ins, non-violence trainings, and
concerts featuring major musical acts.

To support us contact www.realdemocracy2008.

*West Grand High School in Kremmling, Grand County, has an Apache
Helicopter mounted in its front lawn. A picture I took of it on my camera
phone can be seen at:
Christian Wright lives in Denver and can be reached at
cawright2007 [at]

--------17 of 18--------

Americans Move Left, New York Times Misses It
by Jeff Cohen
Published on Monday, July 28, 2008 by

The headline atop Saturday;s op-ed page was a hallowed standby for the New
York Times: "Americans Move to the Middle". Assembled by Times "visual
columnist" Charles Blow, the text of the column was dwarfed by 15 graphs
tracking recent movement in American public opinion, based on Gallup
polls. There was one problem: the headline totally distorted the data.

An accurate headline would have been "American Opinion Moves Leftward" -
but accuracy was apparently trumped by centrist ideology. (Yes, there are
ideologues of the center, as well as of Left or Right.)

It's a cherished myth of many in establishment punditry that most
Americans perpetually and happily find their way to the safe center of
American politics. This pleasant status quo consensus is marred, in Blow's
text, by "party extremists sharpening their wedge issues" to rally their
bases and caricature their opponents.

Here's the data presented by Blow and the Times: 15 public opinion graphs
on various issues starting in 2001-2003 and ending in 2006-2008. Of the
15, about a dozen track issues on which there are recognizable positions
associated with Right and Left. Of those dozen, the trend in opinion is
unmistakenly leftward on virtually every one.

On foreign policy:

. "The Iraq war has made the U.S. less safe from terrorism." 37% in 2003
and 49% four years later.

. "The U.S. should not attack another country unless it has been attacked
first". 51% in Oct. 2002 and 57% in 2006

. "The government is spending too much for national defense and military
purposes". 19% in Feb. 2001 and 44% in Feb. 2008.

On cultural issues:

. "Organized religion should have less influence in this nation". 22% in
Jan. 2001 and 34% in Jan. 2008.

Asked if the following were "morally acceptable," trend lines were
leftward. "Gay relationships": 40% in May 2001 to 48% in May 2008.
"Divorce": 59% to 70% in same time period. "Medical research using stem
cells from human embryos": from 52% in May 2002 to 62% in May 2008.

Some might argue that there is one Times graph that trends rightward: "The
state of moral values in the country as a whole is getting worse". It went
from 67% in May 2002 to 81% in May 2008. Yet I'm no conservative and I'm
absolutely part of the 81% - given the declining morals that descend from
corporate, government and religious elites.

So the Times presents Gallup data showing a clear trend toward the left,
and calls it a "Move to the Middle". Is the assumption that we were mostly
rightwingers a few years ago? Or is the "move to the middle" line simply
more reassuring to an establishment newspaper?

The reality is that longterm trends in American opinion are generally
leftward on issues, as documented in well-researched studies.

It's a reality that troubles those Beltway pundits who constantly goad
Barack Obama toward "the center" on issues like Iraq and NAFTA - when they
mean, move away from the center of mass opinion and upwards toward the
center of elite opinion.

A demagogue like Sean Hannity instinctively knows this reality, which is
why his attacks on Obama emphasize WrightAyresBitterMichelle more than

Jeff Cohen is director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca
College. He founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986.

These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and
discover new web pages.

--------18 of 18--------

The Military-Industrial Complex
It's Much Later Than You Think
By Chalmers Johnson
July 28, 2008
Source: TomDispatch

Most Americans have a rough idea what the term "military-industrial
complex" means when they come across it in a newspaper or hear a
politician mention it. President Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced the idea
to the public in his farewell address of January 17, 1961. "Our military
organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my
predecessors in peacetime," he said, "or indeed by the fighting men of
World War II and Korea... We have been compelled to create a permanent
armaments industry of vast proportions... We must not fail to comprehend
its grave implications... We must guard against the acquisition of
unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the
military-industrial complex."

Although Eisenhower's reference to the military-industrial complex is, by
now, well-known, his warning against its "unwarranted influence" has, I
believe, largely been ignored. Since 1961, there has been too little
serious study of, or discussion of, the origins of the military-industrial
complex, how it has changed over time, how governmental secrecy has hidden
it from oversight by members of Congress or attentive citizens, and how it
degrades our Constitutional structure of checks and balances.

>From its origins in the early 1940s, when President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt was building up his "arsenal of democracy," down to the present
moment, public opinion has usually assumed that it involved more or less
equitable relations - often termed a "partnership" - between the high
command and civilian overlords of the United States military and
privately-owned, for-profit manufacturing and service enterprises.
Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that, from the time they first
emerged, these relations were never equitable.

In the formative years of the military-industrial complex, the public
still deeply distrusted privately owned industrial firms because of the
way they had contributed to the Great Depression. Thus, the leading role
in the newly emerging relationship was played by the official governmental
sector. A deeply popular, charismatic president, FDR sponsored these
public-private relationships. They gained further legitimacy because their
purpose was to rearm the country, as well as allied nations around the
world, against the gathering forces of fascism. The private sector was
eager to go along with this largely as a way to regain public trust and
disguise its wartime profit-making.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Roosevelt's use of public-private
"partnerships" to build up the munitions industry, and thereby finally
overcome the Great Depression, did not go entirely unchallenged. Although
he was himself an implacable enemy of fascism, a few people thought that
the president nonetheless was coming close to copying some of its key
institutions. The leading Italian philosopher of fascism, the neo-Hegelian
Giovanni Gentile, once argued that it should more appropriately be called
"corporatism" because it was a merger of state and corporate power. (See
Eugene Jarecki's The American Way of War, p. 69.)

Some critics were alarmed early on by the growing symbiotic relationship
between government and corporate officials because each simultaneously
sheltered and empowered the other, while greatly confusing the separation
of powers. Since the activities of a corporation are less amenable to
public or congressional scrutiny than those of a public institution,
public-private collaborative relationships afford the private sector an
added measure of security from such scrutiny. These concerns were
ultimately swamped by enthusiasm for the war effort and the postwar era of
prosperity that the war produced.

Beneath the surface, however, was a less well recognized movement by big
business to replace democratic institutions with those representing the
interests of capital. This movement is today ascendant. (See Thomas
Frank's new book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, for a superb
analysis of Ronald Reagan's slogan "government is not a solution to our
problem, government is the problem.") Its objectives have long been to
discredit what it called "big government," while capturing for private
interests the tremendous sums invested by the public sector in national
defense. It may be understood as a slow-burning reaction to what American
conservatives believed to be the socialism of the New Deal.

Perhaps the country's leading theorist of democracy, Sheldon S. Wolin, has
written a new book, Democracy Incorporated, on what he calls "inverted
totalitarianism" - the rise in the U.S. of totalitarian institutions of
conformity and regimentation shorn of the police repression of the earlier
German, Italian, and Soviet forms. He warns of "the expansion of private
(i.e., mainly corporate) power and the selective abdication of
governmental responsibility for the well-being of the citizenry." He also
decries the degree to which the so-called privatization of governmental
activities has insidiously undercut our democracy, leaving us with the
widespread belief that government is no longer needed and that, in any
case, it is not capable of performing the functions we have entrusted to

Wolin writes:

"The privatization of public services and functions manifests the steady
evolution of corporate power into a political form, into an integral, even
dominant partner with the state. It marks the transformation of American
politics and its political culture, from a system in which democratic
practices and values were, if not defining, at least major contributory
elements, to one where the remaining democratic elements of the state and
its populist programs are being systematically dismantled." (p. 284)

                       Mercenaries at Work

The military-industrial complex has changed radically since World War II
or even the height of the Cold War. The private sector is now fully
ascendant. The uniformed air, land, and naval forces of the country as
well as its intelligence agencies, including the CIA (Central Intelligence
Agency), the NSA (National Security Agency), the DIA (Defense Intelligence
Agency), and even clandestine networks entrusted with the dangerous work
of penetrating and spying on terrorist organizations are all dependent on
hordes of "private contractors." In the context of governmental national
security functions, a better term for these might be "mercenaries" working
in private for profit-making companies.

Tim Shorrock, an investigative journalist and the leading authority on
this subject, sums up this situation devastatingly in his new book, Spies
for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing. The following
quotes are a prcis of some of his key findings:

"In 2006... the cost of America's spying and surveillance activities
outsourced to contractors reached $42 billion, or about 70 percent of the
estimated $60 billion the government spends each year on foreign and
domestic intelligence... [The] number of contract employees now exceeds
[the CIA's] full-time workforce of 17,500... Contractors make up more than
half the workforce of the CIA's National Clandestine Service (formerly the
Directorate of Operations), which conducts covert operations and recruits
spies abroad...

"To feed the NSA's insatiable demand for data and information technology,
the industrial base of contractors seeking to do business with the agency
grew from 144 companies in 2001 to more than 5,400 in 2006... At the
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency in charge of launching
and maintaining the nation's photoreconnaissance and eavesdropping
satellites, almost the entire workforce is composed of contract employees
working for [private] companies... With an estimated $8 billion annual
budget, the largest in the IC [intelligence community], contractors
control about $7 billion worth of business at the NRO, giving the spy
satellite industry the distinction of being the most privatized part of
the intelligence community...

"If there's one generalization to be made about the NSA's outsourced IT
[information technology] programs, it is this: they haven't worked very
well, and some have been spectacular failures... In 2006, the NSA was
unable to analyze much of the information it was collecting... As a
result, more than 90 percent of the information it was gathering was being
discarded without being translated into a coherent and understandable
format; only about 5 percent was translated from its digital form into
text and then routed to the right division for analysis.

"The key phrase in the new counterterrorism lexicon is 'public-private
partnerships'... In reality, 'partnerships' are a convenient cover for the
perpetuation of corporate interests." (pp. 6, 13-14, 16, 214-15, 365)

Several inferences can be drawn from Shorrock's shocking expos. One is
that if a foreign espionage service wanted to penetrate American military
and governmental secrets, its easiest path would not be to gain access to
any official U.S. agencies, but simply to get its agents jobs at any of
the large intelligence-oriented private companies on which the government
has become remarkably dependent. These include Science Applications
International Corporation (SAIC), with headquarters in San Diego,
California, which typically pays its 42,000 employees higher salaries than
if they worked at similar jobs in the government; Booz Allen Hamilton, one
of the nation's oldest intelligence and clandestine-operations
contractors, which, until January 2007, was the employer of Mike
McConnell, the current director of national intelligence and the first
private contractor to be named to lead the entire intelligence community;
and CACI International, which, under two contracts for "information
technology services," ended up supplying some two dozen interrogators to
the Army at Iraq's already infamous Abu Ghraib prison in 2003. According
to Major General Anthony Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib torture
and abuse scandal, four of CACI's interrogators were "either directly or
indirectly responsible" for torturing prisoners. (Shorrock, p. 281)

Remarkably enough, SAIC has virtually replaced the National Security
Agency as the primary collector of signals intelligence for the
government. It is the NSA's largest contractor, and that agency is today
the company's single largest customer.

There are literally thousands of other profit-making enterprises that work
to supply the government with so-called intelligence needs, sometimes even
bribing Congressmen to fund projects that no one in the executive branch
actually wants. This was the case with Congressman Randy "Duke"
Cunningham, Republican of California's 50th District, who, in 2006, was
sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in federal prison for soliciting
bribes from defense contractors. One of the bribers, Brent Wilkes, snagged
a $9.7 million contract for his company, ADCS Inc. ("Automated Document
Conversion Systems") to computerize the century-old records of the Panama
Canal dig!

                A Country Drowning in Euphemisms

The United States has long had a sorry record when it comes to protecting
its intelligence from foreign infiltration, but the situation today seems
particularly perilous. One is reminded of the case described in the 1979
book by Robert Lindsey, The Falcon and the Snowman (made into a 1985 film
of the same name). It tells the true story of two young Southern
Californians, one with a high security clearance working for the defense
contractor TRW (dubbed "RTX" in the film), and the other a drug addict and
minor smuggler. The TRW employee is motivated to act by his discovery of a
misrouted CIA document describing plans to overthrow the prime minister of
Australia, and the other by a need for money to pay for his addiction.

They decide to get even with the government by selling secrets to the
Soviet Union and are exposed by their own bungling. Both are sentenced to
prison for espionage. The message of the book (and film) lies in the ease
with which they betrayed their country - and how long it took before they
were exposed and apprehended. Today, thanks to the staggering
over-privatization of the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence,
the opportunities for such breaches of security are widespread.

I applaud Shorrock for his extraordinary research into an almost
impenetrable subject using only openly available sources. There is,
however, one aspect of his analysis with which I differ. This is his
contention that the wholesale takeover of official intelligence collection
and analysis by private companies is a form of "outsourcing." This term is
usually restricted to a business enterprise buying goods and services that
it does not want to manufacture or supply in-house. When it is applied to
a governmental agency that turns over many, if not all, of its key
functions to a risk-averse company trying to make a return on its
investment, "outsourcing" simply becomes a euphemism for mercenary

As David Bromwich, a political critic and Yale professor of literature,
observed in the New York Review of Books:

"The separate bookkeeping and accountability devised for Blackwater,
DynCorp, Triple Canopy, and similar outfits was part of a careful
displacement of oversight from Congress to the vice-president and the
stewards of his policies in various departments and agencies. To have much
of the work parceled out to private companies who are unaccountable to
army rules or military justice, meant, among its other advantages, that
the cost of the war could be concealed beyond all detection."

Euphemisms are words intended to deceive. The United States is already
close to drowning in them, particularly new words and terms devised, or
brought to bear, to justify the American invasion of Iraq - coinages
Bromwich highlights like "regime change," "enhanced interrogation
techniques," "the global war on terrorism," "the birth pangs of a new
Middle East," a "slight uptick in violence," "bringing torture within the
law," "simulated drowning," and, of course, "collateral damage," meaning
the slaughter of unarmed civilians by American troops and aircraft
followed - rarely - by perfunctory apologies. It is important that the
intrusion of unelected corporate officials with hidden profit motives into
what are ostensibly public political activities not be confused with
private businesses buying Scotch tape, paper clips, or hubcaps.

The wholesale transfer of military and intelligence functions to private,
often anonymous, operatives took off under Ronald Reagan's presidency, and
accelerated greatly after 9/11 under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Often
not well understood, however, is this: The biggest private expansion into
intelligence and other areas of government occurred under the presidency
of Bill Clinton. He seems not to have had the same anti-governmental and
neoconservative motives as the privatizers of both the Reagan and Bush II
eras. His policies typically involved an indifference to - perhaps even
an ignorance of - what was actually being done to democratic, accountable
government in the name of cost-cutting and allegedly greater efficiency.
It is one of the strengths of Shorrock's study that he goes into detail on
Clinton's contributions to the wholesale privatization of our government,
and of the intelligence agencies in particular.

Reagan launched his campaign to shrink the size of government and offer a
large share of public expenditures to the private sector with the creation
in 1982 of the "Private Sector Survey on Cost Control." In charge of the
survey, which became known as the "Grace Commission," he named the
conservative businessman, J. Peter Grace, Jr., chairman of the W.R. Grace
Corporation, one of the world's largest chemical companies - notorious
for its production of asbestos and its involvement in numerous
anti-pollution suits. The Grace Company also had a long history of
investment in Latin America, and Peter Grace was deeply committed to
undercutting what he saw as leftist unions, particularly because they
often favored state-led economic development.

The Grace Commission's actual achievements were modest. Its biggest was
undoubtedly the 1987 privatization of Conrail, the freight railroad for
the northeastern states. Nothing much else happened on this front during
the first Bush's administration, but Bill Clinton returned to
privatization with a vengeance.

According to Shorrock:

"Bill Clinton... picked up the cudgel where the conservative Ronald Reagan
left off and... took it deep into services once considered inherently
governmental, including high-risk military operations and intelligence
functions once reserved only for government agencies. By the end of
[Clinton's first] term, more than 100,000 Pentagon jobs had been
transferred to companies in the private sector - among them thousands of
jobs in intelligence... By the end of [his second] term in 2001, the
administration had cut 360,000 jobs from the federal payroll and the
government was spending 44 percent more on contractors than it had in
1993." (pp. 73, 86)

These activities were greatly abetted by the fact that the Republicans had
gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994 for the first time
in 43 years. One liberal journalist described "outsourcing as a virtual
joint venture between [House Majority Leader Newt] Gingrich and Clinton."
The right-wing Heritage Foundation aptly labeled Clinton's 1996 budget as
the "boldest privatization agenda put forth by any president to date." (p.

After 2001, Bush and Cheney added an ideological rationale to the process
Clinton had already launched so efficiently. They were enthusiastic
supporters of "a neoconservative drive to siphon U.S. spending on defense,
national security, and social programs to large corporations friendly to
the Bush administration." (pp. 72-3)

       The Privatization - and Loss - of Institutional Memory

The end result is what we see today: a government hollowed out in terms of
military and intelligence functions. The KBR Corporation, for example,
supplies food, laundry, and other personal services to our troops in Iraq
based on extremely lucrative no-bid contracts, while Blackwater Worldwide
supplies security and analytical services to the CIA and the State
Department in Baghdad. (Among other things, its armed mercenaries opened
fire on, and killed, 17 unarmed civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad, on
September 16, 2007, without any provocation, according to U.S. military
reports.) The costs - both financial and personal - of privatization in
the armed services and the intelligence community far exceed any alleged
savings, and some of the consequences for democratic governance may prove

These consequences include: the sacrifice of professionalism within our
intelligence services; the readiness of private contractors to engage in
illegal activities without compunction and with impunity; the inability of
Congress or citizens to carry out effective oversight of privately-managed
intelligence activities because of the wall of secrecy that surrounds
them; and, perhaps most serious of all, the loss of the most valuable
asset any intelligence organization possesses - its institutional memory.

Most of these consequences are obvious, even if almost never commented on
by our politicians or paid much attention in the mainstream media. After
all, the standards of a career CIA officer are very different from those
of a corporate executive who must keep his eye on the contract he is
fulfilling and future contracts that will determine the viability of his
firm. The essence of professionalism for a career intelligence analyst is
his integrity in laying out what the U.S. government should know about a
foreign policy issue, regardless of the political interests of, or the
costs to, the major players.

The loss of such professionalism within the CIA was starkly revealed in
the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's possession of weapons of
mass destruction. It still seems astonishing that no senior official,
beginning with Secretary of State Colin Powell, saw fit to resign when the
true dimensions of our intelligence failure became clear, least of all
Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet.

A willingness to engage in activities ranging from the dubious to the
outright felonious seems even more prevalent among our intelligence
contractors than among the agencies themselves, and much harder for an
outsider to detect. For example, following 9/11, Rear Admiral John
Poindexter, then working for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) of the Department of Defense, got the bright idea that DARPA
should start compiling dossiers on as many American citizens as possible
in order to see whether "data-mining" procedures might reveal patterns of
behavior associated with terrorist activities.

On November 14, 2002, the New York Times published a column by William
Safire entitled "You Are a Suspect" in which he revealed that DARPA had
been given a $200 million budget to compile dossiers on 300 million
Americans. He wrote, "Every purchase you make with a credit card, every
magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every web
site you visit and every e-mail you send or receive, every bank deposit
you make, every trip you book, and every event you attend - all these
transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department
describes as a .virtual centralized grand database.'" This struck many
members of Congress as too close to the practices of the Gestapo and the
Stasi under German totalitarianism, and so, the following year, they voted
to defund the project.

However, Congress's action did not end the "total information awareness"
program. The National Security Agency secretly decided to continue it
through its private contractors. The NSA easily persuaded SAIC and Booz
Allen Hamilton to carry on with what Congress had declared to be a
violation of the privacy rights of the American public - for a price. As
far as we know, Admiral Poindexter's "Total Information Awareness Program"
is still going strong today.

The most serious immediate consequence of the privatization of official
governmental activities is the loss of institutional memory by our
government's most sensitive organizations and agencies. Shorrock
concludes, "So many former intelligence officers joined the private sector
[during the 1990s] that, by the turn of the century, the institutional
memory of the United States intelligence community now resides in the
private sector. That's pretty much where things stood on September 11,
2001." (p. 112)

This means that the CIA, the DIA, the NSA, and the other 13 agencies in
the U.S. intelligence community cannot easily be reformed because their
staffs have largely forgotten what they are supposed to do, or how to go
about it. They have not been drilled and disciplined in the techniques,
unexpected outcomes, and know-how of previous projects, successful and

As numerous studies have, by now, made clear, the abject failure of the
American occupation of Iraq came about in significant measure because the
Department of Defense sent a remarkably privatized military filled with
incompetent amateurs to Baghdad to administer the running of a defeated
country. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates (a former director of the CIA)
has repeatedly warned that the United States is turning over far too many
functions to the military because of its hollowing out of the Department
of State and the Agency for International Development since the end of the
Cold War. Gates believes that we are witnessing a "creeping
militarization" of foreign policy - and, though this generally goes
unsaid, both the military and the intelligence services have turned over
far too many of their tasks to private companies and mercenaries.

When even Robert Gates begins to sound like President Eisenhower, it is
time for ordinary citizens to pay attention. In my 2006 book Nemesis: The
Last Days of the American Republic, with an eye to bringing the imperial
presidency under some modest control, I advocated that we Americans
abolish the CIA altogether, along with other dangerous and redundant
agencies in our alphabet soup of sixteen secret intelligence agencies, and
replace them with the State Department's professional staff devoted to
collecting and analyzing foreign intelligence. I still hold that position.

Nonetheless, the current situation represents the worst of all possible
worlds. Successive administrations and Congresses have made no effort to
alter the CIA's role as the president's private army, even as we have
increased its incompetence by turning over many of its functions to the
private sector. We have thereby heightened the risks of war by accident,
or by presidential whim, as well as of surprise attack because our
government is no longer capable of accurately assessing what is going on
in the world and because its intelligence agencies are so open to
pressure, penetration, and manipulation of every kind.

[Note to Readers: This essay focuses on the new book by Tim Shorrock,
Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, New York:
Simon & Schuster, 2008.

Other books noted: Eugene Jarecki's The American Way of War: Guided
Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril, New York: Free Press,
2008; Thomas Frank, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, New York:
Metropolitan Books, 2008; Sheldon Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed
Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2008.]

Chalmers Johnson is the author of three linked books on the crises of
American imperialism and militarism. They are Blowback (2000), The Sorrows
of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic
(2006). All are available in paperback from Metropolitan Books.

[This article first appeared on, a weblog of the Nation
Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and
opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of
the American Empire Project, author of The End of Victory Culture
(University of Massachusetts Press), thoroughly updated in a newly issued
edition covering Iraq, and editor and contributor to the first best of
Tomdispatch book, The World According to Tomdispatch: America in the New
Age of Empire (Verso).]


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